Diffusion of Innovations

By Everett M. Rogers

This is “a classic work on the spread of new ideas” — describing the process by which innovation spreads, through early adopters on outward. And it covers an awful lot of material! Everything from how innovations arise to how they get distributed to how they emerge from organizations and end up having an impact. It looks quite well-structured and thorough; academic yet accessible. It’s somewhat technical, but also a bit of a sociological and historical survey.

It’s described as a foundational work in “change management literature” — whatever that is, exactly! — and though apparently it’s heavier on underlying abstractions than practical application processes, that’s kind of my jam so no worries there. He does give principles and “generalizations” to guide the process of building things so it seems quite useful even if not focused on implementation.

One person calls it “a guide for entrepreneurs” — and even provides a chapter by chapter “tour guide” for prospective readers. (Absurdly thorough Amazon reviewers: you’ll always occupy a special place in my heart!) Another person writes, “The book is not a how-to guide, but rather an unbiased view of innovations. By examining the unintended consequences of innovations, Rogers cautions leaders to exercise prudence when pushing others to change.”

The book is “comprehensive, ranging from the elements of diffusion and the history of diffusion research to generators of innovation, change agents, and the consequences of innovations.” The whole thing looks interesting, but some sections, like the one about diffusion networks, seem particularly fascinating and crucial to understand. This is one of those books that, the more I read about it, the more I want to dig in!

Additional information:

  • ISBN: 978-0743222099
  • Publisher: Free Press

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