I was recently at a training program where the topic came up of being an early or late adopter.
An early adopter is often one who has arrows in their back for being first to try something out. A late adopter sometimes misses a major change, but they rarely make mistakes by being too early.
An early adopter seems to be one who asks why they should do something and if the answer makes sense they trot on down the road and start adopting. A late adopter asks what it is and after it’s been well tested they decide it’s time for them to jump on board.
Early adopters often drive those around them crazy. These people will change their mind at a drop of a hat. If something sounds better than what they’re doing now, off they go in that new direction. Sometimes that new direction gets adopted without a great deal of thought about whether this is really a good idea.
As a result early adopters make a lot of mistakes. The successful early adopters realize when they make mistakes and quickly change direction or even go back to what they were doing before. For many working with an early adopter can be a frustrating experience (I know this because I’m an early adopter).
Late adopters are at the opposite end of the spectrum. They will want to see a new idea well proven before they even consider adopting a new thing. Often these people are resistant to change and have a major problem in today’s fast moving world.
Late adopters can find the world has passed them by before they’ve made necessary changes to their lives and businesses. A late adopter drives people crazy because they often are rigid and don’t allow for experimentation in their organizations.
Each has their advantages and each their problems. Ultimately all great organizations have both in their companies, and both have the respect of each other. The only way respect is established between a late adopter and an early adopter is through trust, and trust only comes when each truly listen to each other and show flexibility when discussing issues and taking actions.
So, what are you? If you’re an early adopter do you understand the chaos you create in your company? If you’re a late adopter do you let people experiment even though it makes you uncomfortable?
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