WWIF #14: Early Adopter vs. Early Adapter

We all know that the early bird supposedly gets the worm, but many organizations don't want to be the first to assume the risk or investment that might be associated with a breakthrough innovation.

It's a perfectly acceptable strategy for many groups … watch and learn… gain insights from others' efforts to increase the likelihood of successfully adopting them.  The problem is it is too easy to become complacent and watching and learning can rapidly digress to just watching, if even that.  Eventually you've waited too long to get in the game and others have claimed attention, interest, and investment that rightfully should have been yours.

What if instead of thinking only of adopting others' innovative approaches we focused on more rapidly adapting them to suit our own purposes?

Too often we engage in wholesale acceptance or rejection of an idea another organization has implemented, be they from our own industry or another.  "That will work perfect for us."  "That would never fly around here."

Most innovations succeed because of the context and target audience for which they have been designed.  Instead of  adoption, we should more frequently embrace adaption.  In doing so we constantly scan credible sources for innovative possibilities; examine all the elements of their innovations; identify the core concepts behind the specifics of the product, service, or system; and then consider how these concepts might be modified to work in our own environment.

So let's not completely quit looking for ideas we can outright adopt, but let's more frequently shift the question from "Will this work for us?" to "How could we adapt this idea so it would be successful for our members or customers?"

Note:  Wednesday What If is a weekly feature applying the "what if" mindset associated with abductive reasoning or logic in an effort to stretch our thinking about what is desirable and very frequently, quite doable.

1 comment:

alangdell said...

Great insight Jeffrey. There can be only so many innovators. A main success factor in business is making innovation work for your customer. You don't have to invent the wheel, just make it shiny/slick/filling/etc based on what your audience demands.