Driving Change Based on the Diffusion of Innovators

“We are chameleons, and our partialities and prejudices change place with an easy and blesses facility, and we are soon wonted to the change and happy in it.”  ~Mark Twain

For as long as I’ve been working, and I know much longer than that, there has been talk of how to change and evolve the workplace.  I guess it is human nature to find flaws in things and think we can make it better.  How then is the actual act of changing something so challenging?  In the face of change, why do many of us balk and cling to the less-than-perfect current state?

In order to be creative and drive change, we need to re-examine some of the same industry topics that have been discussed previously.  It’s about taking the truisms of our every day workplace existence and rethink how to better design them in order to have ideal future functionality.  We also need to think FAR beyond our comfort zone to push for new ideas that will revolutionize organizations. We also need to think about how change comes about and how our actions can help drive greater adaptation and acceptance.  It truly is an EVOLUTION where change is adopted slowly and it adapts to the needs of the individual, the organization, the economy, the barriers, and the technology.

One model I’ve come across throughout my sociological studies and in my career is Everett Rogers‘ theory on the Diffusion of Innovators.  Rogers was a sociologist who, at the age of thirty, wrote that diffusion is, “the process by which an innovation is communicated through certain channels over time among the members of a social system.”   Rogers basically demonstrated that  change agents can be broken down into their rate of adoption.  Here’s a common model of how that looks.



A Real-life Example

Having just completed another HRevolution, we receive questions about how the event fits into the Human Resource landscape.  I have a few observations that can help illustrate the user adoption of an event that is disruptive to the norm.

  1. There is a strong feeling that the excitement that comes with a less structured event will be able to drive the momentum for faster change in the industry.  While I personally wish this were the case, it is not.  As you can see on the curve, only 2.5% of people are truly innovators followed by the 13.5% of early adopters.  I look at people in these two categories who seek out learning in a non-traditional format as the risk takers.  These are the people who are helping create the pressure for change and they are the ones who can personally respond well to change.   So in my opinion, people in the top 16% should really be seen as the people  who are going to take new, innovative looks at old facts and come up with ideas to drive business efforts forward.
  2. The “early majority” need more facts.  It’s not that they are adverse to change, they just need that little extra push in order to support and embrace the change.  This group will need to either be persuaded to experience the change or they will need to see concrete examples of how a new approach can benefit them.
  3. What he labels “late majority” are really the group that needs to be shown WHY they need to get on board.  They have numerous objections and will need many discussions to vet all the possible negative outcomes of the process.  In my opinion, this is where many leaders fall.  It’s not that they won’t change, you just have to provide a compelling case to nudge them in that direction.  They may have more to lose when it comes to their credibility.  However, get them in your corner and people will definitely notice.
  4. The last group is  the “Over My Dead Body” group.  If you need a barrier, here it is.

Regardless of what type of change you think is valuable to your organization, come at the problem with:

  • A plan- Like any skilled business person knows, you have to have a well thought out plan and a business case to even get your toe in the door to start the discussion.
  • Facts- Case studies, research and statistics to support the change initiative.
  • Ability, influence, or power to articulate and persuade- If you don’t have any of these, you need to find someone in the organization who can help you fill this role.  Look to the people you know who tend to be early adopters and convince them.  Then, sell the idea to the powers that be.
  • A backup strategy- What if it doesn’t work?  What is the plan you can come back with that says you’ve already thought through several scenarios in which the change does not take hold?

What are other ways you can convince others to adopt innovative ideas you, or your team have?  Please share them in the comments.

*Adapted from the dusty archives

Can Professional Writing Harm Your Blog?

bloggingI’m siting here this morning about to head to the airport on a business trip and I’m thinking about this blog.  For the first four years, it was my outlet, my online journal of thoughts.  Sure, I had some posts that were full of research and took many hours to write, but many were just posts of what was in my head in the moment. After a few years, I actually became a professional writer, paid to come up with intriguing, researched articles.  I’m thinking this has harmed my blog.

How so?  Well, one of the most valuable aspects of blogging (and reading blogs) for me is the free-flow of thoughts.  Now, as I’m used to editors who look for specific learning points, referenced materials, or the “proper” process  of having a thesis and then giving examples to either prove or disprove it, it has changed what I post.  I find that many posts I write sit in my drafts for months, even years.  I am hesitant to share because they are not always fully thought out ideas.

The harm in that is that when I used to post them, it would spark comments and collaboration from all the readers.  We became a writing team of sorts.  We were in this together.  We learned from each other.  Well, going forward I am going to do my best to go back to the way things were.  I will continue writing professionally for clients, but on this blog, I will also add in some posts that are more random and that will hopefully spark your interest to join in a conversation.

What do you think?  What do blogs mean to you and do you think they should always point out a fully formed thought?

HR Gives Back: HR Happy Hour #221

hrhappyrhourJoin Steve Boese and me in an episode we recorded LIVE at the ADP Analyst Day in New York City.  We were thrilled to have Mollie Lombardi as our guest to talk about her project….HR Gives Back.  HR Gives Back to a Future without Parkinson’s is an idea started by Mollie Lombardi, Mike Pauletich, Teresa Thieme and Jeanne Achille. It is a way to help raise money and awareness for the fight against Parkinson’s Disease.  It will live on as a way for HR to give back to other charitable organizations in the future.

This year Mollie and her friend Mike are competing in a fundraising effort leading up to the HR Technology Conference October 18- 21 in Las Vegas.  There are some fun ways to get involved in raising money and awareness and we encourage you to learn more at www.hrgivesback.net.

October 21, 2015 marks the day that famous DeLorean landed in the future. It also marks the last day of the 18th annual HR Technology Conference and Expo. What better time to help HR give “Back to a Future” without Parkinson’s than a fundraiser supporting The Michael J. Fox Foundation (MJFF).  Join members of the HR technology community in a virtual marathon October 1-21, raising funds and running or walking 26.2 miles over 21 days to support the cause, and at the HR Technology Conference Oct. 18-21 for an onsite challenge sponsored by FitBit.

Join us for a lively show about this outstanding event as well as an update on ADP and a little flash back to the 80’s at the beginning!

You can listen to the show on the show page here, or using the widget player below:

Check Out Business Podcasts at Blog Talk Radio with Steve Boese Trish McFarlaneon BlogTalkRadio


Weigh In: The Impact of Talent Management Technology Survey is LIVE Now

cropped-H3_HR_Advisor_300x100.pngH3 HR Advisors is proud to launch our first Talent Management Technology Impact survey in conjunction with iPractice (Perry Timms and Adelaida Manolescu). As the reach and impact of Talent Management technology increases, organizations are looking to compare their use to other successful organizations. This survey will measure and compare those impacts.

Please take a moment to respond and to share with all your HR friends and colleagues. Thank you!

Perks and Upgrades: Why Occasionally Spending More Makes Sense

Datsun B210I read an article that said that the Datsun B-210 was voted one of the ugliest cars of all time.  Now, just looking at the picture, it would be hard to argue that it is not one of the ugliest cars.  I’m not sure why they have it pictured with a train, because it certainly was not faster than a train- not even close.  And the color choice?  That 1978 burn orange is really attractive, if you’re into pumpkins.

I know it wasn’t the most attractive car of all time.  But, it certainly had its good points.  My dad actually owned a car just like the one pictured.  It was small and had no frills.  No air, no power anything.  It did come with an AM radio, but that was all.  I’m sure he bought it just to get to and from work.  He was a plant manager at a zinc refinery so it was definitely not a place you would want to take a nice car.  The chemicals from the plant ruined the paint on every car in the lot.  The reason I had the pleasure of riding in the car was that my dad thought it would be the perfect fuel-efficient mode of transportation one summer to travel from St. Louis to St. Petersburg Beach, FL.  That had to be about the longest, hottest, 21 hours in a car I can say I have ever had.  But, it got us to our destination and back home again.

We only kept that car for about two years.  Sure, it was practical at the time, but with a growing family it just didn’t make sense.  And based on the amount of time spent in the car, my parents realized that they needed a few perks and upgrades.

Really, the car is symbolic of choices each of us make every day.  In human resources, are we no different.  The economy is bad.  Is your company in the market for new HR technology?  A new recruiting tool?  Do you need help from a consultant?  I know the tendency is to shy away from spending.  But, that is only good in the short term.  If you buy the “practical but cheap” technology, you can bet you’ll be sorry in a year or two.  The economy will rebound.  Your business will grow.  Then, you’ll be back at square one and having to pay much more than if you negotiate today.

Some people will disagree, but I feel strongly about this.  Invest NOW in your company.  The time is right, the pricing is right.  Think about your next five to ten years, not just about today.

What do you think?  Is your company keeping spending on hold?  Are they spending but buying the practical or cheaper technology?  Or, are they visionaries who are taking a little risk and investing in the company’s future?  I’d love to hear in the comments.

Can You Keep Your Career Safe from the Robots?

HR Happy Hour 219 – Keeping Your Career Safe from the Robots

Recorded LIVE from SuccessConnect 2015 in Las Vegas, August 11, 2015

Hosts: Steve Boese

Guest: Karie Willyerd, SuccessFactors


This week on the HR Happy Hour Show, Steve sat down at SuccessFactors customer conference SuccessConnect and spoke with Karie Willyerd, Workplace Futurist (i.e. the best job title ever), and author of the upcoming book Stretch: How to Future-Proof Yourself for Tomorrow’s Workplace.

On the show, Steve and Karie talked about just what a Workplace Futurist does, what are some of the big-picture work and workplace challenges that lay ahead for organizations, and then dove into the the issues and workplace opportunities that increased use of robotics and automation present. Karie laid out 5 key principles that anyone can use to help ensure their continued development, assert their value, and keep themselves and their careers safe from our future robot overlords.

This was a really fun show!

You can listen to the show on the show page HERE, or using the widget player below:

Check Out Business Podcasts at Blog Talk Radio with Steve Boese Trish McFarlaneon BlogTalkRadio

Thanks to SAP/SuccessFactors for having the HR Happy Hour Show at the event.

Finally, thanks to our show sponsors Equifax – learn more about how Equifax Workforce Solutionscan help you and your organization here.

And really finally, on iTunes or your favorite podcast app just search for ‘HR Happy Hour’ to subscribe to the show and never miss an episode.

Hate Your Boss? How to Bridge the Personality Gap

Free-Rating-Buttons-PSDDo you like your boss?

Maybe that’s not a fair question.  The real question is… “Do you like your boss enough to stay with the organization?”  In my career in HR, I’ve fielded complaints ranging from dislike of micro-managers to working for someone who is so distant that a relationship never forms.  I’ve found that as I’ve worked with executives over the last 18 years, one thing stands out…. if there is not a match in style between the leader and the subordinate, ultimately that working relationship will suffer.  Over time, either the employee will become dissatisfied and leave the company, the leader will not be satisfied with the employee and performance will suffer, or both people stay in the relationship and the department never reaches it’s full productivity potential.

Awhile back, I was reading an article in Scientific American Mind on Attachment Theory.  The article was about the role that Attachment Theory plays in romantic relationships.  It struck me that although they were focusing on romantic relationships, the theory plays out in our work relationships as well.  Attachment Theory was first discovered by Mary Ainsworth, an American psychologist.  Her work with a British researcher, John Bowlby, resulted in the idea that people who have a strong attachment to others, specifically their caregivers, are more likely to survive.  The three types of attachment are:

  • Secure– This person has a solid base and is able to explore their environment.  They’re more likely to learn and thrive and are comfortable with intimacy.
  • Anxious–  This person is overly worried about where the other person (ie. parent, romantic partner or boss) is and what they are doing.  By being preoccupied with that, they are not easily able to focus their attention on the situation at hand.
  • Avoidant– This person believes that if they allow a close, trusting relationship to form, they will lose their independence.  They try to minimize closeness in their relationships and keep other people at arms length.

The impact of this in the workplace can be huge.

If there is a mis-match of the boss’ attachment style and yours and you do not recognize it, your relationship may never see success. One or both of you will be disappointed in the other person.  This disappointment will cause friction over time if not addressed and eventually, something has to give. Recognizing your own attachment style can help you in your relationships because then you can make adjustments to aid in bridging the gap. According to the article authors, Amir Levine and Rachel S.F.Heller, “attachment principles teach us that most men and women are only as needy as their unmet needs.  When their emotional needs are met, they usually turn their attention outward.  This result is sometimes referred to in the literature as the ‘dependency paradox’: the more effectively dependent people are on one another, the more indpendent and creative they become.”

As we help leaders, or as we review our own leadership style, the message is clear.  We need to help stack the deck by working toward having a more secure and trusting relationship with our boss.  This is where HR can really help an employee focus efforts on strategies to reach that goal instead of focusing on all the problems in the working relationship.

I’d love to hear your thoughts on these attachment styles and how you’ve seen relationships play out in the workplace.  What has worked and what hasn’t?

Independence, Dependence and the Future of Work

Steve Boese and I recorded a new episode of HR Happy Hour that focused on a hot topic in the HR world- the difference between Independent Contractors and employees.  It then evolved into a full discussion on how the future mix of contractors will impact not only HR, but Talent Acquisition and the organization in general.  Be sure to check out episode #218 HERE, or using the widget player below:

Check Out Business Podcasts at Blog Talk Radio with Steve Boese Trish McFarlane on BlogTalkRadio


This was a really fun and lively conversation and we hope you enjoy the show!  Many thanks to our friends at Equifax Workforce Solutions for sponsoring us.  If you haven’t checked out what they are up to, please be sure to click through.

The discussion  Steve and I had reminded me of a post I wrote several years ago about the difference of being independent and dependent in general.  I think it still applies today, and maybe even to a greater degree than it did then.
“Independence means rebellion, risk, tenacity, innovation, and resistance to convention.”

revolution-global-voicesI first heard this quote during a conversation with Steve Boese.  He was reading the book ‘Slanted and Enchanted: The Evolution of Indie Culture‘ and it struck him as a meaningful quote.  Since then, he has written about it on his blog and even had the author, Kaya Oakes, on the HR Happy Hour show to talk more about independent thinking and indie culture.  What’s interesting is that the quote keeps rolling around in my head and coming back to me.

Why?  Because as much as I like to think I’m independent, I believe that as humans, we gravitate to being dependent.  It’s our natural state of being.  Although, it seems as if admitting that you are dependent is equivalent to career suicide.  However, as long as I can be influential in a positive way while still feeling support, I’m content depending on other people.  If I can be persuasive and respected while collaborating and my voice is still heard, I’m ok with dependence.

Dependence CAN be a positive experience.

It’s that feeling of being cared for or knowing that someone has your back.  The best teams are built off this interdependence as a core value.  It’s the way I feel when you read this blog.  Regardless if you agree or disagree with something I write, I still feel your support and I am in a dependent relationship with you.

Dependence is ultimately what drives business.  It’s being able to work together to meet someone else’s needs.  It’s the backbone of the economy.  So, why is it so attractive to tell someone that you are independent? Here are a couple reasons:

  • It’s the “cool” thing to do- Who doesn’t want to claim that they are part of the indie culture in their industry.  There are times when we feel like breaking out on our own is the ultimate way to be cool.  We can do our own thing, make all our own decisions, take greater risks, and ultimately, not have to rely on anyone else to make things happen.
  • It feels fluid– Being able to be agile and go with the flow more quickly is an appealing model for many of us.  However, with that also comes great risk that a majority of businesses that we deal with have bureaucracy that prevents or hinders their agility, thus affecting ours to some degree if we are their vendor.
  • Entrepreneurial spirit– Like many of the founding forefathers in US history, being able to have the ability to be independent and start out on a new course, over uncharted ground, is exciting.  That spirit is appealing.

I argue that at the end of the day, even the most independent person is still predominantly reliant on others whether that be as customers, as those that provide financial funding, or those people in your circle that act as your advisory board.

What do you think?  Is it ever really possible to be independent?  Or, it is the spirit that initially drives certain people who then ultimately become dependent like the rest of us?  Weigh in over in the comments section.