Uptake of innovations reframed in terms of embedded entanglements

This post reframes an issue about innovation posed in a previous post, switching which situation is the default and what the issue is.

Everett Rogers’ classic work on diffusion of innovations … posits a bell curve, in which there are a small number of innovators and a few more early adopters, but most people are in a middle group, early and late majority, leaving a small tail of laggards.  In marketing, Geoffrey Moore points to the gap (or “chasm”) between the early adopters and the early majority.  The early majority are, as [an educational colleague] explained to me, prepared to adopt innovations, but they need them to be integrated with their own practical day-to-day concerns and specific situations.  (In contrast, innovators and early adopters take up innovations because they like to try new things.)

This situation is depicted below, where the default situation is innovation and the issue is uptake beyond the early adopters.


A few years ago an experienced facilitator admonished me not to think too much about how to support the translation into everyday work and life of tools and processes introduced in a workshop setting.  The advice was to the effect that tools and processes are taken up only if they are introduced in actual work settings.  I am starting to accept this — or, at least, to acknowledge and accept the limits of teaching tools and processes for reflection and collaboration in workshops away from situations that matter to the participants work and lives (see recent post).   In this spirit, the following diagram makes the default situation one in which people are entangled, but open to change through new encounters.  Efforts to innovate outside those contexts can be seen as stepping away from entanglements. What do people (such as myself) lose by positioning themselves in that way?



About Peter J. Taylor
Peter Taylor teaches and directs programs on critical thinking, reflective practice, and science-in-society at the University of Massachusetts Boston. He studies the complexity of environmental and health sciences in their social context as well as innovation in teaching, group process, and interdisciplinary collaboration (see bit.ly/pjtaylor). He is especially interested in conversations with others who are, in diverse ways, "troubled by heterogeneity" (bit.ly/tbhblog)

2 Responses to Uptake of innovations reframed in terms of embedded entanglements

  1. Exactly where did u actually obtain the suggestions to create ““Uptake of innovations reframed in terms of embedded entanglements Probe—Create Change—Reflect”?
    Regards -Franziska

  2. I knew that I needed to elaborate on the sources for this notion. Thank you for reminding me of that.
    The source for the terms entanglements is the so-called new feminist materialism (see e.g., http://bit.ly/12NPtec) or a specific variant of it in Donna Haraway’s Where Species Meet, where she also talks about knots, encounters, and meetings. I have not studied this much, but through conversations have adopted and adapted some vocabulary. In brief, the sensibility (or method) of Haraway involves tracing heterogeneous connections into any knot, with an ethic of curiousity about such connections and of being open to touch (or respons-abilities) in these meetings, allowing for these connections not to be settled, for there to be “no resting place.”

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