Adopting new innovations

Jul 16, 2023

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Successful adoption requires effective communication, testing, and involvement of all potential users.

Has your firm been struggling to implement a new process or new tool throughout the org chart? You may think you’re having a hard time because the new shiny thing just isn’t a good fit for your firm, or maybe your idea-vetting process isn’t working, or maybe the rollout wasn’t clear. No matter your reason, new ideas have always been hard to accept. Humans are not accustomed to rapid changes, and the world around us is evolving quickly. We are coming up with new ideas every day on how to improve our workplaces, advance ourselves technologically, or just communicate better. All of these are forms of innovation, and innovation is how we improve ourselves and our collective lives.

“Innovation” has become a buzzword. Leaders in firms are trying to find the next best innovation – whether they call it that or not. But they are often thinking of solely technological innovations. This type of thinking can limit the potential of a firm. Innovation, according to Everette Rogers in his book Diffusion of Innovations, is “an idea, practice, or object that is perceived as new.” You can look at the most recent Apple unveiling event to see how far technological innovations have come with the introduction of their new virtual and augmented reality headsets. But you can also see where they’ve plateaued – when will the MacBook not have a bevel and when will its web cam quality finally catch up? You can also look to AI and its rapid expansion into the workplace for how innovations can diffuse into new contexts. Zweig Group has been a part of starting the conversation around integrating AI into the AEC industry because we know it has the potential to change the industry from all sides.

But, as mentioned above, we are not accustomed to change. With rapidly developing technologies like AI, no one can know how well an innovation will be integrated from the start. If you want an innovation to stick, you must begin by communicating the advantages to the groups that will use them. In this way, innovative communication has the potential to have the biggest impact on any idea. This means leaders need to understand how information is being shared across a company through its different business groups. Ideas spread fast in likeminded groups, so identifying the most influential people in each business group and getting them bought in to a new idea should be one of the first steps taken when fielding a new idea to your company.

If leaders are the only ones fully in the know of what new ideas, products, and processes are coming down into the rest of the org chart, that’s inviting pushback and could have a negative impact on adoption rate. Pushing new ideas onto a group will create reluctant adoption which in turn can build resentment and ultimately push people out if they don’t feel like they have a choice. This can be avoided if those deciding – or even the ones creating – innovations include the users in the creation and adoption process.

Again, from Rogers’ book, if an innovation is to be effectively adopted by a group, its relative advantage of use must be clearly stated without being overly complex. The innovation must be thoroughly tested and observed as being compatible with the needs of the potential users. For example, if an innovation is brought forward by an employee in a firm and understood to be useful, but that benefit is only explained once to leadership before being established as a new standard practice without being tested by other parts of the company, that innovation is likely to fail. It wouldn’t fail because the innovation was poorly designed or hard to use, but because the advantage was not tested or communicated effectively with all potential users. Without communication, innovations cannot be adopted. If innovations are not adopted, we cannot elevate our industry.

If you are looking to elevate your firm, the AI Innovation Discovery service now offered by Zweig Group is designed to help identify areas of your firm that have the potential to adopt innovative ideas: a new process, a new product, a new way of communicating. We will walk you through exercises in a workshop format that will center your firm’s and employees’ needs around the problem, so that the final solution fits your firm’s unique situation. Click here to learn more

Katelynn Santiago, MFA, is senior design manager at Zweig Group. Contact her at

AI Innovation Discovery We provide valuable insight into how to best understand and seamlessly merge and adapt AI into your organizational structure. Let us guide you and optimize the impact of AI on your operations, identify areas where AI can be implemented, and develop a roadmap for successful AI adoption. Click here to learn more!

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About Zweig Group

Zweig Group, three times on the Inc. 500/5000 list, is the industry leader and premiere authority in AEC firm management and marketing, the go-to source for data and research, and the leading provider of customized learning and training. Zweig Group exists to help AEC firms succeed in a complicated and challenging marketplace through services that include: Mergers & Acquisitions, Strategic Planning, Valuation, Executive Search, Board of Director Services, Ownership Transition, Marketing & Branding, and Business Development Training. The firm has offices in Dallas and Fayetteville, Arkansas.