Innovation Success

 How can you turn a great idea into a great success? It seems like every week someone is coming out with a brand new innovation. The difference between the innovations that take off and those that crash can be due to the rate of adoption. Great innovations can die on the vine because of disappointingly low adoption rate. Unfortunately, great ideas that never take off are failures.

Everett Rogers in his book, Diffusion of Innovations talks about the five critical characteristics of innovation adoption. He explains that the attributes of an innovation, as perceived by the members of a social system, will determine its rate of adoption and can ultimately mean the difference between success and failure.

So if you have a great idea, what should you be focusing on when taking your innovation from the design and development phase to the market place? Rogers shares with us his findings:


  1. Relative Advantage – The degree to which the innovation is perceived as better than the idea it supersedes. The greater the perceived advantage of an innovation, the more rapid its rate of adoption will be. If your idea or product is not much better than the idea or product you are intending to replace, you can expect slow consumer adoption.
  2.  Compatibility - The degree to which the innovation is perceived as being consistent with the existing values, past experiences, and needs of potential adopters. New innovations are great, but if they don’t fit within existing ways of doing business or needs of consumers, they wont get sold. Even in our age of rapid change, your innovation can be too ahead of the customer.
  3. Complexity – The degree to which an innovation is perceived as difficult to understand and use. If an innovation is too complicated, people will pass on your product.
  4. Trialability – The degree to which an innovation may be experimented with on a limited basis. If the consumer can get a free sample or experiment with your product before making a commitment, there is a greater likelihood it will be adopted.
  5. Observability – The degree to which the results of an innovation are visible to others. Getting your marketing message out to the public is important, but getting your future customers to see your current customers using your innovation is invaluable. Consumers are more likely to give your innovation a try if they can observe early adopters happily using the product.


Innovations that are perceived by individuals as having greater relative advantage, compatibility, trialability, and observability with less complexity will be adopted more rapidly than other innovations. When time is of the essence, an innovator would do well to consider these attributes as they design, develop, and market their technology. Research has shown that while all of these factors are important, the first two attributes, relative advantage and compatibility, are particularly critical in explaining an innovation’s rate of adoption.

We at Gilson Daub enjoy being at the cutting edge of innovations in the legal practice. The technology we use has helped us serve our clients well as we move toward our goals of innovation and excellence. Our firm has certainly benefited from becoming early adopters of great new products, technology and ideas.

Best of luck to the dreamers and continue to innovate!


-Brent Daub

Senior Partner @ Gilson Daub, Inc.


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Rogers, Everett (2003) The Diffusion of Innovations. Fifth Edition. New York; New York: Free Press.