crossing the chasmAny new technology will begin its advance on the market by attracting the so called early adopters.  These are the folks that get what you’re doing naturally.  In a social business context these folks will be the kind who are already keen users of social tools and have the social mindset already.  For these people, it will be an easy sell to get them utilising the social tools you’re hoping to implement in your business.

And that’s great.  Taking an experimental approach to social business is very important.  It allows you to try out lots of different approaches on a small scale to see what actually works and what doesn’t.  The failures won’t have consumed vast resources so your experiments will likely have flown under the radar and thus you can fail in relative confidence.

Thus when you find the things that do work, not only do you have measurable successes to solicit the resources you need to expand things, but you will also have an army of cheerleaders amongst the early adopters to help you cross the chasm.

How to cross the chasm

Crossing the chasm was the phrase coined by Geoffrey Moore in the 90′s to describe the process of shifting from early adoption to mass market adoption.  It built upon similar work by Everett Rogers in the 1960′s.  So how can you cross the chasm and get your social adopted by the mainstream in your business?

Moore himself outlines four stages to go through:

  1. Target point of attack
  2. Assemble an invasion force
  3. Define the battle
  4. Launch the invasion

Lets look at each in turn.

Target point of attack

To begin with you want to start small and focus on achieving real success in a small niche.  This is a gradual process, you’re not going to achieve wide success over night, so start small and focus your resources in one area.

Assemble an invasion force

This stage takes as a given that you have products and tools that work well.  At this stage you want to assemble your team of ambassadors from amongst those that have already enjoyed your work.  These people will be key in influencing the rest of the organisation and can cheerlead on your behalf.

Define what you want to achieve

At this stage you need to know what it is you want to achieve in order for you to measure the success.  Having this benchmark available will enable you to feed back to your team on how the crossing is going, which areas are doing well and so on.

Launch your invasion

Moore advocates moving across to the mainstream one person at a time.  Depending on the size of your organisation and the audience you’re looking to reach, this may or may not be a viable strategy.  If you have a good team of advocates though it makes this process significantly easier as they can do much of the selling for you.  Your role then becomes one of coordinating this process rather than doing it all yourself.

How have you crossed the chasm in your organisation?