Stage 5.1.2  Preventing Failure

Take advantage of your knowledge of adoption phases to prevent failure

It should be noted that rejection of you and/or your innovation can take place at any stage along the way. Indeed, a decision to reject sometimes may be a good decision; the innovation may not, after all, be appropriate for a particular client. Assuming, however, that the innovation is, in fact, suitable, there are some things you can do to reduce the chances of rejection:

Individuals must be encouraged to progress through all the adoption steps in sequence without skipping any. The six steps reflect the natural way in which people come to accept new ideas and practices and give up old ways of doing things.  The change agent should keep these hazards in mind:

  • Skipping steps (e.g., trial without evaluation, adoption without trial).
  • Changing the order of steps (e.g., trial before getting sufficient information or commitment to try).
  • Hurrying through the stages just to meet a schedule. (Most people need time to think things over before they make a change that will affect their lives in a significant way.)
  • Ignoring individual differences in adoption rates (e.g., assuming that everyone in the client system is aware of the innovation). Just because a message was sent does not mean that it was received.

You will have worked with some members of the client system in your initial planning and they may be ready for trial; others will not yet have enough information, while still others may not even be aware of the innovation.

  • Individuals must be allowed and encouraged to make a personal commitment; let them come to you once their interest is aroused. It is unnecessary and undesirable to provide help before it is needed.
  • Individuals must be allowed and encouraged to discuss their problems, and it is best to bring them out in the open.
  • The change agent should try to acquire and offer the client resources relevant to each adoption phase (consider again the D-A-E-T-E-I-M formula for the types of resources needed at different stages, presented earlier in the Stage 3.
  • Individuals need greater support from the change agent when the actual behavioral trial begins. This may be the point of greatest resistance since the implications of the change become apparent at this point, and such feelings as fear of failure and loss of previous security become salient and threatening. Be prepared to offer this extra support at the time of trial.