The 3 Stages of a New Idea

Have you ever introduced a timely, well thought-out, breakthrough idea, only to be met with RESISTANCE? Yeah, me too.

John Paul Jackson, a man I greatly respect, said that an idea goes through three stages: ridicule, active resistance, and being accepted as if it always was.

This process could take weeks, months, years, or even decades depending on the idea.

I have seen this over and over again especially in the acceptance of new technologies.

Email is just for goofing off. Years ago, email was thought to only be for chatting with friends or sending jokes or silly links. The idea of email has gone through the first two stages and is now an accepted part of doing business.

How about Instant Messaging (IM)? In many companies, (IM) is in the ridicule or active resistance stage. I know of a company where two developers were working on a project using IM. The company made a decision to block IM because it was dangerous and it was only used for goofing off. On the other hand, more progressive companies encourage the use of IM and have seen productivity improvements as a result.

How about taking naps? For most of my career, the idea of “falling asleep on the job”, was grounds for instant dismissal. However, we are starting to hear of companies setting up “quiet rooms” whose purpose is to give people a place to take a nap at work. Why? Because most people are sleep deprived and these companies are finding that giving their people a chance to take a nap is a win for all concerned. In some cultures taking a mid-day nap is just normal. It will be interesting to see whether or not companies will encourage people to take naps or not.

When introducing a new idea, don’t expect it will be accepted at first. Most are not. One thing that may help is to gather support for the new idea before presenting it to the decision makers. For instance, maybe you want to encourage the use of IM at your company. A good first step might be to survey the people at the company and find out how many of them already use IM on a regular basis.

What have you seen that works when introducing a new idea and what doesn’t?

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One thought on “The 3 Stages of a New Idea

  1. You should look into the book ‘tipping point’ this is where the concept of the three stages of acceptance comes from