Adoption of New Ideas Exercise

Sarah W. Fraser Associates
Aylesbury, United Kingdom
This tool is designed to actively engage a group of people in responding to a new or "better" idea and assess their likelihood to adopt it. The Adoption Exercise is a group activity that vividly demonstrates Everett Rogers’ diffusion curve related to spread. The exercise involves a volunteer attempting to "sell" a good idea (but one that is difficult to sell) to a group using Rogers’ attributes of a change that affect the rate of adoption:
  • Relative advantage of the proposed change
  • Compatibility with the current system (structure, values, practices)
  • Simplicity of the change and transition
  • Testability of the change
  • Ability to observe the change and its impact
Participants in the group respond to the new idea by sorting themselves out into smaller groups according to their own level of enthusiasm and whether they would be likely to "adopt" the proposed idea. The diffusion curve is created as the groups gather at the front of the room: innovators/early adopters on the left and historians/late adopters on the right.

The Adoption Exercise is used to demonstrate several important spread concepts. Different changes are easier/harder to "sell" than others, so we need to tailor our communication accordingly. Not everyone is an early adopter. Some people are more likely to accept one type of change versus another (i.e., some are innovators or laggards, depending on the different types of ideas or changes proposed).

This "adoption" or "selling ideas" exercise has been used in training sessions for spreading improvements.

Download the tool for complete instructions.

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