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Implementing Change-Communication and Change Agents

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Eugene Elizondo

on 20 July 2011

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Transcript of Implementing Change-Communication and Change Agents

Diffusion: Communication and
Change Agents Gabriel Tarde As he reflected on change, one of his wonderments had to do with why so few innovations were actually used out of the hundreds that were conceived. Two key components of the Diffusion perspective that change takes place inside of social systems and the act of communication. In the Diffusion perspective, change is thought of in terms of a process whereby a “new idea” becomes distributed throughout a social system through people talking to people. Another important construct in the Diffusion perspective is an emphasis on each individual making an adoption decision. Guiding Principles of the Diffusion Perspective 1. The Diffusion perspective applies to all types of systems, including schools, businesses, and communities. 2. The amount of communication and the number of people engaged in making and receiving communications is a key to adoption rates. More is better. 3.Innovators are the first to adopt new ideas; however, they are less influential as opinion leaders. Early adopters are most influential. 4.Perceptions of the innovation influence the rate of adoption. Innovations that are seen as having an advantage over current practice, not being complicated, being able to be sampled, and matching well with current values are more likely to be adopted. 5. Opinion leaders are a key to the rate of adoption. Early adopters are highest in opinion leadership. 6. Lines or channels of communication become important because those who have more access will have more information about the innovation and earlier. 7.Information about an innovation will travel fastest when there are more lines or channels of communication and where there are more people. Sources of Communication Targets of Communication Media in Communication
1. Face to face
2. Phone
3. Cell Phone
4. E-mail
5. Web
6. Print
7. Other Purpose of Communication
1. Provide information
2. Seek information
3. Non-innovation related Sociogram-People with more connections to others will be in a better position to learn more and earlier than those with fewer networks. Five Adopter Categories Innovators-The very first people to adopt an innovation are the innovators. Early Adopters- Early adopters adopt new ideas quite quickly, but only after reasoned consideration. They are respected locally and tend to have been in place for extended time. Early Majority- Where the innovators and early adopters are fairly quick to adopt, the early majority are more deliberate. They take time and give more consideration in making the adoption decision. Late Majority- The late majorities are slow to adopt and tend to do so only when there is pressure from others or the need becomes very strong. They approach change with doubts and caution. Laggards- This label brings with it an unfortunate negative connotation. However as the name implies, laggards are very slow, and even resistant, to the adoption of new ideas. The primary theme in the Diffusion perspective is communication. The Opinion Leaders- These individuals have extra influence, although they tend to be more low profile. They probably have been in the system for quite some time, are successful in their own practices, and have had some leadership roles. Implications for Leaders Facilitating Change 1. Keep in mind that communication is never done. It is very important to repeat messages and to use a variety of media to say the same thing. 2.The metaphor of the U.S. highway system representing the lines of communication can easily be applied to organizational settings. Teachers, or other employees, travel certain routes as they come in from the parking lot, as they pick up mail, and as they go to the cafeteria. Use it! Set up the demonstration classroom, the innovation exhibit, examples of kids’ work along the lines of communication. 3. The importance of opinion leadership and opinion leaders cannot be underestimated. Identify the opinion leaders. These individuals need to be courted and sold on the importance of the innovation. 4. If the adopter category studies are accepted, then there is little reason to engage with the late majority and laggards early in a change effort, except if the laggard is a leader of a key unit, then that person must be courted. 5. An external change agent needs to build linkages with the opinion leaders. Personal side. Most change agents are not seen as “all business.” 6. Be alert to the interpersonal connections. Sociograms become a very useful tool for charting relationships. 7. Keep in mind that communication is done using a variety of media. Communication across Adopter Categories-pattern of flow of communications across the adopter categories. The innovators obtain a lot of their information through their extensive external networks, whereas the laggards have very limited sources of information. There is a general flow of communication, as well as adoptions, from innovator, to early adopter, to early majority, to late majority, and finally to laggards. Perceived attributes of the innovation-The focus is on understanding the perceptions rather than on questioning the validity of the perceptions. In many ways perception is reality. One of the generalizations from the Diffusion perspective is that the more positive the perceptions of the innovation, the more likely the chances are of having a favorable adoption decision. Relative Advantage-The perception that the innovation will have greater outcomes, profits, or consequences, when compared to what is being done currently. Compatibility-The degree to which the innovation is perceived to be compatible with the adopter’s values, needs, and concerns influence the adoption decision. Complexity-Innovations that are perceived to be very complex are likely to be adopted more slowly. Innovations that are perceived to be simple to implement and use will be more readily adopted. Trialability-Innovations that are easy to try out have an increased adoption potential. Test driving a car. Observability entails being able to see the innovation in use and to see the results. When observability is high, there is more likely to be favorable adoption decision.
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