Everett Rogers came up with the Diffusion of Innovation model, which explains why and how a meme can move through a social system. Memes are generated by Innovators, and require a committed group of risk-taking Early Adaptors to propel them forward. The Early Majority are the next critical group needed for buy-in; they want to be convinced of an idea’s validity, importance, and acceptance, but they also don’t want to miss the boat. The Late Majority hold tight to the status quo, are fearful of change, and have difficulty adapting. The strongest resistance comes from the Laggards, however. Laggards are often former innovators themselves and resent how the majority treated them, according to William Bergquist in “The Diffusion of Innovation: A Coaching Framework.”
Not all leaders or innovators are cut out to be followers–especially when they feel like their leadership and innovation weren’t appreciated. In education, it’s clear how the system has become entrenched with lagging behaviors and many of those who once led the innovation have given up and now refuse to assist.
Laggards can be coached and coaxed back into the organization, according to Bergquist. They can back others’ ideas and generate more of their own, but they want assurance that they will be treated fairly and that their ideas will be valued. Are the former innovators in your organization being coached and coaxed back into being valued contributors?