Adoptability – a progress hurdle

“Adoptability” progress hurdle
Dr. Adam Tacy PhD, MBA avatar

A seeker needs to feel they can adopt a proposition. And we borrow aspects of Rogers’ adoptability theory to interpret this – complexity, relative advantage, compatibility, to name a few.

Progress hurdles

Just a quick recap of progress hurdles, they are:

progress hurdles – factors that if felt, uniquely and phenomenologically, by a progress seeker as too high, may lead them to decide to not start, or to abandon, a progress attempt.

Instead of viewing them as barriers, we refer to these factors as hurdles because seekers may choose to progress regardless of their size. A barrier would imply no progress attempts.

Editing below here

Offering me a mini-nuclear reactor to provide my power needs is not something I can envisage myself doing. Even if back in 1963 Sweden was seemingly heading that way. It is somewhat complex and doesn’t give me much advantage over attaching solar panels or connecting to the national power grid.

Luckily, we can leverage the work of Rogers here. In ”Diffusion of Innovations” he identified several factors that speed up adoption of innovations. And we’ll co-opt adopting an innovation as deciding to engage with a proposition. 

Which effectively implies a seeker needs to adopt each time they engage. This is not too far-fetched. And is somewhat analogous to Christensen’s big and little hires in his job to be done theory.

Here are Rogers’ factors:

Rogers’ factors that affect adoption speed of innovation. 
We repurpose these as factors affecting the adoption hurdle

Presently we’ll only be concerned with the perceived attributes factor. The other factors might be found important as we continue to explore the progress economy. Though a helper may have less influence on those outside of a b2b context (where progress can be through projects with activities captured in contracts).

These attributes are:

  1. Relative advantage
  2. Compatibility
  3. Complexity
  4. Trialability
  5. Observability

We’ll briefly explore each of these in the context of progress propositions. And of course we need to keep in mind Rogers was concerned about speed of adoption across a social network. Whereas we are thinking about an individual actors decision to engage.

relative advantage

Rogers stipulates that the relative advantage a new innovation has compared to existing approaches accelerates its adoption in a social network. And in the progress economy we can say relative advantage means making progress better and/or better progress. 

“Better”, of course, being a unique and phenomenological judgement of progress seekers. Which relates to the progress potential (functional, non-functional and context) they see as well as the progress hurdles being low enough.

If a proposition doesn’t have a relative advantage to a progress seeker, they are less likely to engage it.


The more compatible an innovation / progress proposition is with seekers existing lived experience the quicker it will be adopted across a social system. And similarly the lower the adoption progress hurdle will be.

Classically innovation writers talk about computer keyboards having a QWERTY layout. There’s no technical reason why this is so. But they are compatible to type-writing machines (where QWERTY layout reduced collisions between hammers printing on paper). And that compatibility eases adoption.

Imagine that you are going to offer a proposition in the metaverse that requires text input. I’d imagine you’re going to provide an interface similar to a virtual QWERTY keyboard…

There’s a risk that compatibility gets interpreted as a constraint on innovation / new propositions. It’s not meant to be. Rather, observe it as a hurdle and identify how you can minimise that.


If a proposition is too complex to engage then a seeker may decide not to use it to progress. Or, perhaps more likely, they abandon underway progress attempts as they find the proposition too complex when engaging.

This part of the hurdle talks to the helper needing to initially determine how to reduce complexity. And then having a dialogic approach during progress attempts to minimise resource misuse (due to complexity).


Allowing a seeker to trial engaging a proposition can lead to lowering the adoptability hurdle.

Although unsupervised trialing can do the opposite if the seeker gets frustrated in the trail.


Finally, if the seeker can observe the proposition being engaged by others in their social network the adoptability hurdle should be reduced.


These adoptability factors have lasted the test of time. But they need to be seen in context of progress sought. 

And here’s an interesting example around complexity. Above we see that complexity should, in general, be minimised. However, consider the interface of the popular Snapchat photo sharing application.

For most adults, Snapchat’s interface is complex and somewhat confusing. However, teenage users enjoy it, not least because it keeps Mum and Dad from joining.

Adoptability is towards your target market – the group of progress seekers with sufficiently similar progress sought. This might make it less adoptable by other markets. However that might be a plus to your target market. Progress… CLICK TO TWEET


Explore the other progress hurdles.

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