innovation

Diffusion Curve Reflection

The Diffusion Curve is a reflection and discussion activity based on the theory of the diffusion of innovations. Using the basic principles of the diffusion curve, the activity aims to have participants reflect on the question: in which areas of my life am I: an innovator, early adopter, early majority, late majority, or laggard? It can also be extended to have participants apply the same lens to the organizations or companies they work for.

Learn how to apply this tool:

Master Class Digital Acceleration
  1. Step 1:

    Using tape on the floor, recreate the diffusion curve model. Make is as large as possible. Clearly mark the different categories within the diffusion curve: innovators; early adopters; early majority; late majority; laggards.

  2. Step 2:

    Begin by giving a brief explanation of the diffusion curve of innovation theory (see below). Use a projected slide or a whiteboard to show participants the model and review each category. This explanation does not have to be in-depth. Remind participants that the model is being introduced here simply as a reflection tool.

    Diffusion of Innovations is a theory that seeks to explain how, why, and at what rate new ideas and technology spread through cultures...diffusion is the process by which an innovation is communicated through certain channels over time among the members of a social system...there is a point at which an innovation reaches critical mass. The categories of adopters are: innovators, early adopters, early majority, late majority, and laggards. (Wikipedia)

  3. Step 3:

    Ask participants to take a few minutes to reflect on the following questions:

    • In which area(s) of my work/life am I or have I been an innovator?
    • In which area(s) of my work/life am I or have I been an early adopter?
    • In which area(s) of my work/life am I or have I been in the early majority?
    • In which area(s) of my work/life am I or have I been in the late majority?
    • In which area(s) of my work/life am I or have I been a laggard?
  4. Step 4:

    After a few minutes of reflection have participants group into pairs and walk through the diffusion curve together. The pair can move through the curve in whatever order they wish, but they must pass through each category. At each category, the pair briefly shares their respective individual answers for that category.

  5. Step 5:

    After pairs have moved fully through the diffusion curve, bring the whole group back together and invite spontaneous reflections and insights.

  6. Step 6:

    Optionally: Use these additional questions to stimulate more or different kinds of learning:

    • In a personal context, where do I place myself overall within the diffusion curve?
    • In a professional context, where do I place myself overall within the diffusion curve?
    • Where do I place my company/organization within the diffusion curve?
    • Where do I think my company/organization would place itself within the diffusion curve?
    • Where do I think my company should ideally be within the diffusion curve.

    It can be effective to have participants answer each question by standing on the curve on the relevant category. Then, for each question asked, invite a few participants to explain why they chose to answer the way they did and to reflect briefly on their thoughts.