Duncan Sterling was the kind of student any Dean would dream of having on their M.B.A. as his sharp mind and remarks were keeping faculty on the edge and he would “take no bullshit”… I guess he hasn’t changed much! He commented on a recent post of this blog and added a clip which I am afraid many of us may have missed!
I find interesting the comments and ideas coming out of this clip: The person who provides legitimacy and credibility to the odd “weirdo” starting an improbably successful dance is the early follower… He signals to the many others that there is something worth watching and maybe following here. It seems time to pay justice to those true “heroes” who, through their courage and vision allow others to shine: Everybody will remember the first guy who danced and not the first who granted him legitimacy by joining.
This clip reminds us of course of the popular Everett Rogers “Diffusion of Innovation” curve describing how a given innovation picks up in the market place:
The true supporters to a new idea or change are not the innovators (often being suspected by the rest of being too forward looking and not sufficiently grounded) but the early adopters who have the required credibility to engage the essential early adopters who will then convince the late majority.
Too often, we invest unnecessary energy in seducing the innovators (who are highly needed, worth understanding and grooming ) or, worse on the 16% laggards who are a real black hole of negativity and cynicism. It is worth paying attention to these, as their capacity for destruction is important, but mainly to limit their potential of damage to the organization and never by hoping that they will transform into passionate advocate of the cause. Rebels, courageous challengers and innovators are sometimes wrongly labeled as laggards: nothing could be more wrong. “Challenging is a sign of engagement” as ex IMD professor (now running M.T.I.) Chris Parker likes to say. The laggards consist mainly of the legions of “victims of circumstances”, those obsessed about the past and unwilling to move, the passionarias of immobility.
Let us therefore recognize and support the wonderful “Followers-Leaders” without whom our brilliant geeks and thought provoking innovators would never find the respect and credibility for their ideas.
Thank you Duncan, thank you Derek Sivers for this updated moment of inspiration…
On my way to Singapore. Have a great week all!