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TitleStart with Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action
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Page 135



mattered more than WHY. They also ignored the Law of Diffusion

of Innovations.

In 2000, Malcolm Gladwell created his own tipping point when

he shared with us how tipping points happen in business and in so-

ciety. In his aptly named book The Tipping Point, Gladwell identifies

groups of necessary populations he calls connectors and influencers.

With little doubt Gladwell's ideas are spot-on. But it still begs the

question, why should an influencer tell anyone about you?

Marketers are always trying to influence the influencers, but few

really know how. We can't dispute that tipping points happen and

the conditions that Gladwell articulates are right, but can a tipping

point happen intentionally? They can't just be an accidental

phenomenon. If they exist, then we should be able to design one,

and if we can design one, we should be able to design one that lasts

beyond the initial tip. It's the difference between a fad and an idea

that changes an industry or society forever.

In his 1962 book Diffusion of Innovations, Everett M. Rogers was

the first to formally describe how innovations spread through so-

ciety. Thirty years later, in his book Crossing the Chasm, Geoffrey

Moore expanded on Rogers's ideas to apply the principle to high-

tech product marketing. But the Law of Diffusion of Innovations

explains much more than just the spread of innovation or technol-

ogy. It explains the spread of ideas.

If you don't know the law, you're likely already familiar with

some of its terminology. Our population is broken into five seg-

ments that fall across a bell curve: innovators, early adoptors, early

majority, late majority and laggards.

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As the law states, the first 2.5 percent of the population are the

innovators, and the next 13.5 percent are early adopters. Innovators,

Moore says, pursue new products or ideas aggressively and are

intrigued by any fundamental advance; being first is a central part

of their lives. As their name suggests, innovators are the small per-

centage of the population that challenges the rest of us to see and !

think of the world a little differently.

Early adopters are similar to innovators in that they appreciate

the advantages wrought by new ideas or technologies. They are

early to recognize the value of new ideas and are quite willing to

put up with imperfection because they can see the potential. Al-

though quick to see the potential and willing to take risks to try new

technologies or ideas, early adopters are not idea generators like the

innovators. But both groups are similar, as Moore says, in that they

rely heavily on their intuition. They trust their gut.

Early adopters, like innovators but to a lesser degree, are willing

to pay a premium or suffer some level of inconvenience to own a

product or espouse an idea that feels right. Those on the left side of

the diffusion curve are the ones who stood in line for six hours to be

among the first to buy the iPhone, Apple's entry into the mobile

phone market, even though they could have walked into a store a

week later and bought one without waiting. Their willingness to

suffer an inconvenience or pay a premium had less to do with how

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