Innovation Decision Process

Tuesday, March 30, 2021
Author: Business Consultants, Inc.

Innovation Decision Process

The innovation-decision process is the process through which an individual (or another decision-making unit) passes from knowledge of an innovation to forming an attitude toward the innovation, to a decision to adopt or reject, to implementation of the new idea, and finally to confirming the decision taken.

The process is essentially an information-seeking and information-processing activity in which an individual is motivated to reduce uncertainty about the advantages and disadvantages of an innovation.

The innovation-decision process consists of a series of choices and actions over time through which an individual or a system evaluates a new idea and decides whether or not to incorporate the innovation into his/its ongoing practice.

1. The Knowledge Stage

This stage is the time an individual (or another decision-making unit) is exposed to an innovation’s existence and gains an understanding of how it functions. At first, the person(s) is exposed to an innovation, but lacks information about it, which means he/she is not yet inspired to find out more information about the innovation.

An innovation typically comes with questions such as “What is the innovation?”, “How does it work?”, and “Why does it work?”.

The first question, “What is the innovation?” represents one of three types of knowledge about an innovation, which is "Awareness Knowledge", or information that an innovation exists.

"Awareness Knowledge" may motivate an individual to seek a second and a third type of knowledge: "How-to knowledge" and "Principles knowledge". Such information seeking is concentrated at the knowledge stage of the innovation-decision process, but it may also occur at the persuasion and decision stages. Principles-knowledge consists of information dealing with the functioning principles underlying how an innovation works.1

2. The Persuasion Stage

At the persuasion stage in the innovation-decision process, the individual forms a favorable or unfavorable attitude toward the innovation. Attitude is a relatively permanent set of an individual’s beliefs about an object that comes right before his or her actions.

While the mental activity at the knowledge stage was mainly cognitive (or knowing), the main type of thinking at the persuasion stage is affective (or feeling). Until an individual knows about a new idea, of course, he or she cannot begin to form an attitude toward it.

At the persuasion stage the individual becomes more psychologically involved with the innovation. He or she actively seeks information about the new idea, decides what messages he or she regards as credible, and decides how he or she interprets the information that is received.

The information gathered are mainly about the perceived innovation attributes we explained previously. Among those attributes; relative advantage, compatibility, and complexity are especially important at this stage.1

The main outcome of the persuasion stage in the innovation-decision process is a favorable or unfavorable attitude toward the innovation.1

3. The Decision Stage

The decision stage in the innovation-decision process takes place when an individual (or another decision-making unit) engages in activities that lead to a choice to adopt or reject an innovation.

One way to cope with the inherent uncertainty about an innovation’s consequences is to try out the new idea on a partial basis. Most individuals do not adopt an innovation without first trying it on a probationary basis to determine its usefulness in their own situation. This small-scale trial is often an important part of the decision to adopt.

Some innovations cannot be divided for trial and so they must be adopted or rejected in total. However, innovations that can be divided for trial are generally adopted more rapidly. The trial of a new idea by a peer can substitute, at least in part, for the individual’s trial of an innovation, at least for some individuals and for some innovations.1

4. The Implementation Stage

Implementation occurs when an individual (or another decision-making unit) puts an innovation to use. Up until the implementation stage, the innovation-decision process has been a strictly mental exercise of thinking and deciding. But implementation involves overt behavior change as the new idea is actually put into practice.

A certain degree of uncertainty about the expected consequences of the innovation still exists for the typical individual at the implementation stage even though the decision to adopt has been made previously. An individual particularly wants to know the answers to such questions as “Where can I obtain the innovation?”, “How do I use it?” and “What operational problem am I likely to encounter, and how can I solve them?”.

To accelerate the process, your role here is to provide technical assistance to answer those questions.2

To widen the diffusion of your innovation in this stage you can use the concept of reinvention; the degree to which an innovation is changed or modified by a user in the process of its adoption and implementation.

5. The Confirmation Stage

At the confirmation stage the individual (or other decision-making unit) seeks reinforcement for the innovation-decision already made, and may reverse this decision if exposed to conflicting messages about the innovation. Those messages may come internally from his experience with actually using the innovation, or externally from communication with other people. If those messages are positive, they will reinforce his decision, and if they are negative they will create a state of dissonance; a state of imbalance that occurs when there is a difference between what a person believes is true, and what he is experiencing.

At the confirmation stage, the individual seeks to avoid a state of dissonance or to reduce it if it occurs.

1Rogers, E. M. (2003). Diffusion of innovations. New York: Free Press.


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