Attributes that Drive Innovation

Innovation drives business, organizations and brands’ successes. But why do some innovations spread and others struggle?

Dr. Everett M. Rogers, a renowned expert in innovation diffusions and author of the famous Diffusion of Innovations, reports that there are five perceived attributes of innovations which should be studied when developing innovations.

In his 40+year career, Dr. Rogers proved his theories on ideas and innovations as diverse as the laptop, 9/11 attack news, STOP AIDS, electric cars and kindergarten. It’s no surprise that the tipping point idea finds it origins in diffusion theory.

Rogers uses the cell phone to illustrate these perceived attributes of successful innovations (You can probably substitute Ipods, digital cameras and Google for the cell phone):

Relative Advantage is the degree to which an innovation is perceived as better than the idea it supersedes. A main benefit of the cell phone was that it saved an estimated two hours per week, allowing business people to avoid missed appointments and cope with delayed schedules.

Compatibility is the degree to which innovation is perceived as consistent with existing values, past experiences, and needs of potential adopters. A cell phone connects its user with an existing telephone system, and allows the user to talk with anyone who has a regular telephone.

Complexity is the degree to which an innovation is perceived as relatively difficult to understand and use. From a user’s perspective, a cell phone operates exactly the same as a regular phone, and so it wasn’t necessary to learn any new skills.

Triability is the degree to which an innovation maybe experimented with on a limited basis. A friend’s cell phone could be borrowed for trial use. And in the early 1900s, rental cars often came equipped with a cell phone, which provided a trial innovation for many individuals.

Observability is the degree to which the results of innovation are visible to others. It’s positively related to a rate of adoption. The use of cell phones in cars, restaurants, lobbies, buses and other public places help emphasize their conferral of status on potential buyers.

So as you think about innovations in your life and business as we do with social media, study these attributes and factor them in to help create and spread innovations.