Innovate, or disintegrate: how to get your ideas to spread in the era of innovation

Innovate or Disintegrate: How To Get Your Ideas to Spread in the Era of Innovation
17th August 2017 handh

A couple of weeks ago, our TV screens and social media channels were briefly invaded by dancing bread, singing scones, and croissants doing the worm.

That’s right, Channel 4 dropped the trailer for their latest innovation – the newly revamped version of the Great British Bake Off!

When the news got out that the beloved show was losing its top spot safe within the folds of the BBC, to fans of the show it apparently seemed like the world was ending. And since then, they’ve lost cherished presenters Mary, Mel and Sue, seen the contentious casting of Noel Fielding, and there’s even been doubts over the show’s future after it was reported – however truthfully – that the presenting team weren’t getting on behind the scenes.

To say that the build-up to the new series has been dogged by a decidedly cynical, pessimistic atmosphere would be a pretty big understatement. So it came as no surprise when the strong reaction to the trailer for the new series included many fans who didn’t take to it particularly kindly.

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Innovation gone wrong?

For a while after the release, the apathy surrounding the trailer was palpable. Many fans called it creepy, and even nightmarish.

Some of the best reactions include:

What a horrifying advert
David James Holloway August 3, 2017

This is the actual stuff of nightmares
Jennifer Frank August 3, 2017

It’s fine, I didn’t need to sleep again anyway. Never thought I’d die by being haunted by singing biscuits.
Andrew McDiarmid August 3, 2017

It seems singing bakes aren’t to everyone’s taste!

But when you look past all the animosity, it turns out most people (59%) actually reacted favourably to the trailer, excited to see what the new series will bring.

So those refuting the trailer are actually a disenchanted minority. The show may not be doomed after all!

Here at H&H, we’re massive Bake Off fans – we even held our own Bake Off competition last year (our favourite bakes were our Luke’s spider cookies for Halloween). So we’ll be waiting to watch the new series before we make any judgement.

But this surprising insight got us thinking – how could the hasty naysayers be won over, and encouraged to give the new, rejuvenated series a chance?

giphy 1

Innovate, or disintegrate

After all, in our organisations today, we’re experiencing constant change and innovation. We have to keep up with new technology, new ways of working, and competitive marketplaces, at the same time as bringing fresh, exciting products and ideas to our consumers. And the digital revolution is only increasing the rate of organisational innovation – in fact, 82% of business leaders say they’re practicing open innovation more intensively than they did just three years ago.

Any organisation that doesn’t innovate or constantly improve upon its products and services will get left behind in the dust kicked up by their competitors as they move forward. Companies like Apple and Google have set the trend for continuous innovation, crafting cultures where their employees feel motivated and inspired to readily keep up with and realise new, exciting, leading ideas. And with the constant innovation and increasing demand, competition is fierce.

It’s disrupt, or be disrupted – innovate, or disintegrate.

One of the biggest thorns in the side of any leader striving to keep pace is undoubtedly – what if my innovations are rejected by my employees? What if they don’t take off?

Why so cynical?

Now we’re not saying that the majority would inherently shoot down new ideas. The Bake Off trailer proves otherwise, and we are the most adaptive species on Earth. But if you’re trying to innovate, having just a small group of cynics rain on your parade can knock a substantial dent into the influence and reach your idea ultimately ends up with.

After all, science tells us that we latch onto negativity much more promptly than positivity. It’s down to our evolution – by affording things which we perceive to be bad, dangerous, or threatening more of our attention, we stand a better chance of surviving because we’ve cottoned on to them.

And according to research, if a single idea is repeated often enough – even by just a small group of people – it can be up to 90% as powerful or provocative as if it were being perpetuated by the majority. Politicians use this tactic all the time – persistently reiterating their slogans to persuade us to believe in them, and ultimately vote for them.

The good news is that it’s not all bad news. While these scientific ideas might be unnerving when considering just how influential it means any detractors could be, it works the same the other way around too – and assigns the same potential level of influence to those who genuinely appreciate your idea.

Happy Birthday – or is it

We recently came across this fascinating scientific study which found that for an idea to take hold, it only needs to be accepted and adopted by 10% of the population. This means if someone started spreading around your workplace that it was your birthday today – and just 10% of your colleagues fell for it – you’d probably end up leaving with a cake, several cards, and a sub-standard rendition of Happy Birthday.

This is a similar concept to the Law of Diffusion of Innovation, popularised by Everett Rogers. The Law suggests that populations are made up of Innovators, Early Adopters, the Early Majority, the Late Majority, and Laggards. The former will leap at the opportunity to try out new innovations, while the latter will resist them for as long as they possibly can.

content Law of Diffusion of Innovation  H H graphic

According to Rogers, for new ideas to catch on, they generally need to reach the crucial tipping point. Once the Innovators and Early Adopters are convinced, everyone else will gradually catch on too.

This is great news for anyone who wants their ideas and innovations to catch on and spread. Not even 10 years ago, no-one had an iPhone. And several years before that, nobody had a flat-screen TV.

Obviously, here at H&H we believe firmly in a bottom-up approach to communication, as well as top-down. So it’s important to always hear the naysayers out. After all, they might have perfectly good reasons for rejecting your brilliant idea. And you might find that their own suggestions actually make yours better.

But introducing a new idea to the workplace may not be as difficult as you might think – which is great news for our innovative organisations!

Remember the 10%

Both the 10% rule and the Law of Diffusion of Innovation serve as a reminder for innovators and leaders to make their ideas as appealing, inspiring, and compelling as possible to those who genuinely believe in them. There will always be people who don’t immediately take to new ideas, and drag their heels about accepting them. But equally, there’ll be people who’ll jump at them too.

There’s no point in wasting time and resources in trying to win over the Late Majority and the Laggards. Instead, concentrate on tapping into and capturing the enthusiasm and energy of employees who love to innovate, inject it into your communications – and transmit it across the rest of your organisation.

And you might find your idea goes down better than a delicious slice of singing cake!

Get in touch today to find out how we could help you transform your leaders and managers from average, to exceptional!



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