Consider Perceptions of the Innovation

According to Everett Rogers, adopters’ perceptions of an innovation predict the extent of an innovation’s adoption. Rogers stated, “The greater the perceived advantage, the more rapid the adoption.” The ExpandNet/WHO publication Nine Steps for Developing a Scaling-Up Strategy presents an approach to assessing the potential of an innovation to be successfully implemented: CORRECT.

Decades of work on the diffusion of innovations and documentation of international experience with scaling up have confirmed that innovations with the following seven CORRECT attributes are most likely to be successfully transferred to individual users or user organizations.

  1. Credible. Adopters want strong evidence that an innovation will work. Innovations should be based on sound evidence and should be advocated by respected persons or institutions, or both.
  1. Observable. Potential users would like to see the innovation in practice. Testimonials, study tours and peer-to-peer education work well because they give adopters a chance to see for themselves what to expect.
  1. Relevant. Just because an innovation works well with one population does not mean it will work for everyone. An innovation should be designed for the context in which it is being introduced, and it should address persistent challenges.
  1. Relative Advantage. Another important variable is how potential users perceive the benefit of the innovation. Is the perceived benefit greater than the perceived time and effort adoption of the innovation requires? Is it better than existing practices?
  1. Easy. Research shows that potential users are more likely to adopt the innovation if it is simple and easy to implement. Innovations often spread faster or can be scaled up more quickly when they are simple rather than complex.
  1. Compatible. Is the innovation compatible with the values, beliefs, history and needs of the potential users? Potential users will more readily adopt innovations that align with their values and meet their needs or the needs of their organization.
  1. Testable. The innovation is more likely to be adopted if the potential users can test the innovation on a small scale to see if it really works in their context. This step is essential to reduce fears and increase ownership.

Perceptions of the innovation are also influenced by the level of communication with, and support for, staff throughout the change process and by the organizational culture. 

Encourage Staff Buy-in and Acceptance of Assigned Responsibilities

It is crucial to gain staff buy-in, clarify staff responsibilities for implementing the change and encourage staff to accept the change. If staff members are to be held accountable for implementing the change, they need to:

  • Understand how they will benefit professionally from this change
  • Understand how the change will improve client services
  • Recognize the urgency and priority of the proposed change
  • Have access to the information, resources and skills needed to fulfill their new responsibilities
  • Integrate the new responsibilities into their performance expectations
  • Be held accountable for their role in the change effort

Promote an Environment that Encourages Change

Organizational culture is the shared work values, beliefs, assumptions and traditions that have keep an organization alive and are considered the appropriate ways to handle day-to-day interactions and activities. Consider your organization’s culture with respect to change. Organizations that are generally open to change have more success introducing and scaling up new evidence-based practices than organizations that resist change and have little experience with successful change.