The foundations of disruptive innovation: the Rogers Model

Innovation is not a modern concept, but a chapter of the story of humanity itself and of the organization of social life on Earth. It is from these foundations that Everett Rogers model of diffusion of innovations arose. A curve, a social analysis tool, which has demonstrated its hyper-versatility in all eras, including the years of its elaboration, the 60s. The studies on the agricultural community have been fundamental for the model, as it is precisely in that type of society which, driven by a strict practical necessity, the adoption of innovations has followed a more linear course.

From the first steps, to diffusion.

What happens when the idea of ​​an innovation sees the light? This seems to have been the question that inspired Rogers model. Observation of human behavior has made possible an answer that has made school.

In fact, the theory shows how innovation, or any concept that can be assimilated as “new”, finds its place in the common use of a society. This also includes the way in which this innovation is introduced among people, i.e. through communication, which therefore includes mass media and marketing channels.

The natural habitat of the diffusion.

There are four engines that favor the diffusion. First of all there is innovation which would be the idea, the concept, the object, anything that can be understood as new. Then there is communication, which starts from a source that can be an individual or a group that spreads the new concept. Technically it indicates the journey of a message from a source to the receiver. There is the time factor, defined as fundamental in the diffusion process and finally the social system, that is, all that background and structure in which diffusion takes hold.

The five category

The theory behind the Rogers model therefore divides the social system that sees the introduction of an innovation into five categories. There are the innovators, those who initially assume the investment risk. They are essential for a company as they allow to understand the first opinions on a product. As it is easy to understand, they are by their nature very few. They are followed by early adopters, who instead need to receive greater reassurances regarding the adoption of new products. Being more cautious in risk and benefit assessment, they are impactful for the third category.

That is the initial majority, those who need an even higher number of reassurances and time to decide to adopt a new technological theory. When the social pressure of the latter becomes very insistent on innovation, the laggards, i.e. the late majority, have access. Finally there are the skeptics, who have no influence in the diffusion of an innovation and who according to Rogers indeed, it is quite possible that when they arrive at the idea, another one has already been born.

Rogers model thanks to Wesley Fryer

The five factors

There are five factors that determine the rate of diffusion, five characteristics of innovation that influence its diffusion. First of all there is the relative advantage or an added value of an innovation compared to a previous idea. Then there is compatibility, i.e. when the same innovation is deemed compatible with the system of values ​​and needs of future users. Complexity or being able to understand an innovation. Experimentation, i.e. the use prior to the actual adoption of the innovation. Finally, observability, i.e. the real measurement of the concrete results brought about by innovation.

This process sees the repetition of five phases that lead from the birth of a new idea to the decision to adopt or exclude it. It starts from the knowledge of the existence of this new concept. Moving on from the persuasion that that idea can be used. Then comes the actual decision. Finally, the implementation in the use phase of the idea and the confirmation or a series of tests of the actual usefulness of the new concept.

To deepen the topic:

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