April 7, 2020

The Early Adopters During Dramatic Change

As soon as I hit "publish" on my last post, I wished I had added one other thing to it ...

In moments of dramatic change such as the one we're going through now, there are a few that will respond quickly. These people and systems have an imagination for what is possible, what needs to get done ahead of everyone else. And they act; they use the tools they have available to them and put things into action ... don't screw over these people. 

Maybe they are already adept at the tools needed during dramatic change. If you are the provider of those tools or the person in charge of distributing these tools to a wider group, your job is not to isolate or impair the early adopters even while trying to accommodate those just beginning to use the tool. Leverage the experience and insight of the early adopter to assist others.

Maybe they were the first to put together a plan, a system or a schedule or response for themselves and their team or sphere of influence. If you are higher up the "food chain" of this person/team or have the authority to come up with a plan, a system or a schedule that can supersede the early adopter's ... don't! You need their momentum, you need to learn what they are learning. Find a way for their work to fit into the larger work without slowing them down. If this is impossible to allow, well, congratulate them, thank them and then apologize for making them start over.

Early adopters tend to get the principles I outlined in my last post. That's why they try new things and take calculated risks more often. They may not always be as reliable to the wider system but they are reliable in their specialty. They know how to say they're sorry because they've built their work on asking for forgiveness rather than permission. And we know that they show up, they were showing up long before everyone else.

When heard mentality begins to set in, we forget how crucial it is to have forerunners, scouts and early adopters out ahead of the heard scoping out what is coming. Their work is crucial to the wider group even though they look like they're separate or different. If you have these people in your organization, team, etc. your job is to improve sharing the signs, the lessons and warnings these people see to the wider group. Your job is not to further isolate or shut down. You need these kind of people right now.

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