Thursday, July 07, 2005

Scouting New Territory

I am no trendsetter, that is for sure. According to Moore's Chasm Model, I am more likely an "Early Adopter" (compared with the rest of the world anyway - among true techies, I may be more of an "Early Majority" instead), not an Innovator.

As such, it's probably no surprise that I missed out on the big release of Google Earth that's captured the attention of so many right now. In fact, it it weren't for CNN's use of Keyhole technology covering the London terrorist attack today, I might have missed it for quite some time despite the fact my somewhat luddite spousal unit had even mentioned this satellite stuff just last night. And yet, not so many days after the fact, as I play with it and start seeing all the fun and practical possibilities of this cool new application, I recognize that there are plenty others out there who still know even less about it than I do.

I suppose to be fair, I should be checking out MSN Virtual World and NASA's WorldWind too. I'll be honest though - in this sense, I'm closer to that "Early Majority" mode. Once I find something that does what I want, I don't feel a giant rush to go out and try something new. Not until something that captures my imagination comes along again anyway or I start imagining new things I could be doing if I just had the right tools.

What I find interesting is that I do not have any trouble at all understanding the Innovators group; where others see their behavior as decidedly risky, I see play and experimentation. And while I am more than willing to put up with a certain amount of glitches and bugs myself to be playing with new technology with promise, for me there is always the consideration of practical use in the back of my mind - what it might be and what's necessary for the average person to be able to use it - that makes it easier for me to relate to the Early Majority too. The Late Majority - or Laggards, as Moore calls them in his book, Crossing the Chasm - are the only ones I truly struggle with. What's this "not till hell freezes over" B.S. anyway?

There is one part of my own personality as it fits into this model that I find a bit confusing. I certainly don't become an Early Adopter just to be a pioneer all by myself. In fact, sometimes I find it darned lonely so far out front - so lonely that it seems unlikely I'd ever play seriously in the Innovator space that really does require a pioneering spirit. And yet, at the same time, I do find myself getting a bit claustrophobic when everyone else starts hitting the "me too" phase. For instance, I happen to really like blogging. And I'm glad that I'm not the only one doing it. I think everyone else should be doing it (well, almost everyone, I guess). I'd just like some more room to breathe in the process too. If you've got an explanation for this apparent contradiction, I'd be curious to hear it.

Obviously, anyone starting or running a business would benefit from understanding the implications this adoption model has for entrepreneurial success. And there are other models worth understanding too. What may be less clear is that this information can be useful even for those who aren't running the whole show (or the marketing department either) given that this same premise dictates the technologies we adopt within the workplace and other aspects of corporate life as well.

Where do you fit within the adoption model and how about the others around you at work and in your life? If you have thoughts or observations on the impact those similarities and difference have on your interactions, it might be interesting to share them by sending them to me at and maybe we can compare notes.

How might an improved understanding of how people adopt new technologies and other changes be useful to me?