According to the Wikipedia article, Diffusion of Innovations, a communication studies professor, Everett Rogers proposes that four main elements influence the spread of a new idea:
– the innovation itself
– communication channels
– social system
Rogers describes the diffusion process using five decision-making steps: knowledge, persuasion, decision, implementation, and confirmation. The words make sense… though.
But the graphic attached to this portion of the article really didn’t make much sense to me:
Before reading the accompanying paragraph, I could not understand why knowledge, persuasion, decision, implementation, and confirmation were separate entities on the tree, and not related to each other in a step-wise fashion. Simply put, would you need to have the knowledge to be persuaded or not, then that persuasion can lead to a decision which results in implementation, and final confirmation. However, when reading deeper into the content of the article, it became more clear as to why each step was on its own (with the exception of decision).
1. Knowledge – This part sounds like when you see a new innovation, but don’t have a lot of information on it… and frankly just don’t care at the time. Thus, it’s a dead end.
Let’s use a real life example to go through the five processes:
“Pinterest is a visual discovery tool that you can use to find ideas for all your projects and interests.” – Ok, that’s nice, who cares. I really don’t want to learn more about it, don’t want to use it. From what I understand, it’s like a weird visual way to bookmark and download things of interest. But I do that anyway… and I don’t want to make an account to something I already can do.
2. Persuasion – At this point, the innovation sparks enough interest for someone to try to get more information. Like us, in our class, trying to learn more about certain forms of media we never heard about… but we’re persuaded (by the power of the grading scale) to examine things further, explore, and become more familiar with it. I still argue that it would make more sense, though, if persuasion were related to a decision in the graphic, though. But even the gathering of information and evaluation of that information can be a dead end — maybe nothing comes of it.
Now back to the real-life example:
Well, crap. Now I have to care!!!! I am persuaded into exploring some of these media tools, and cannot escape Pinterest since I consider myself relatively familiar with YouTube, Instagram, Vimeo, and Flickr. So exploring I went in the pursuit of more information and knowledge of what Pinterest was all about. Oooh, I see what you did there, PH 204 teachers. 😉
3. Decision – Finally, a part of the tree that progresses to something else. We finally have a fork in the road: accept or reject the new innovation. But I still maintain that this is contingent upon what your knowledge is, and if you were persuaded one way or another in accepting or rejecting the innovation. I would argue that the box for DECISION should be below PERSUASION.
Although I was somewhat “forced” into exploring and learning more about Pinterest , now the ball is back in my court for the decision making. Which way did I decide? I still reject Pinterest on a personal level, but for the sake of illustrating an example… let’s say I:
4. Implementation – This is the stage that the innovation is utilized, and an assessment may be made about its utility. Not sure if I agree with it’s stand-alone position on the tree… I feel like it should be a branch off of the ACCEPT box below decision, with the alternative “Do Not Implement.”
Fine, fine, fine. I implemented, and made an account. I love food – don’t judge me. Trolling around Pinterest, I am still assessing its utility.
5. Confirmation – Sustainability for the user: the individual will decide if they want to continue using this innovation or not!
Affirmation or Confirmation? To deactivate… or not deactivate… that is the question!
In addition to the above commentary of how I think the diagram should be revised, I feel like some arrows inter-relating some of the components would be helpful. I do not think that people are always going to be stagnant and will LOVE or HATE an innovation in a black and white way. Perhaps you could initially be hesitant about an innovation and reject its use. Some time later, maybe re-evaulation or re-introduction to the same innovation could persuade you differently, and you might give it a chance. Additionally, for those who confirm and will continue to use an innovation may find that the innovation falls victim to the law of diminishing returns (yup, I went there), and may choose to reject it in the future.
So here is my proposed revision to the diagram!
Truthfully, I could have drawn a billion more arrows to show that the whole thought process when approached with innovation is dynamic, but then the graphic would look CRAZY, no?