Your Innovator’s Toolkit: Compatibility

Make things people need

Tom Barrett


During November, we explore four mental models related to transformation and change. By the end of this month, you will have strengthened your innovator’s toolkit with these new principles and ideas.

Today we look at compatibility.

#292 | November 18, 2022​ | Tom x Midjourney​

What does compatibility mean for innovation?

Everett Rogers, a communication studies professor, identified innovation attributes in his book Diffusion of Innovations: relative advantage, compatibility, complexity, trialability, and observability.

Of these attributes, compatibility is perhaps the most important when considering whether an innovation will be successful. Your innovation must be compatible with existing values, beliefs, and practices for it to be adopted.

For example, a new platform for sharing school news with parents may be incompatible with how they interact with information or access communications.

For your innovation to be a good fit for your school community, it must first overcome this compatibility barrier. When evaluating your ideas in the creative process, it is essential to consider whether it is compatible with the existing lived experience and community context.

Otherwise, the innovation may never take off.

Five characteristics of innovations

  1. Relative Advantage — The degree to which an innovation is seen as better than the idea, program, or product it replaces.
  2. Compatibility — How consistent the innovation is with the values, experiences, and needs of the potential adopters.
  3. Complexity — How difficult the innovation is to understand and/or use.
  4. Trial ability — The extent to which the innovation can be tested or experimented with before a commitment to adopt is made.
  5. Observability — The extent to which the innovation provides tangible results.

(Source: Diffusion of Innovations Theory — Adoption and Diffusion)

Compatibility is vital for a successful…



Tom Barrett

Re-discover the curiosity you had when you were 6. Learning, Leadership, Innovation. Join Medium to support my writing << Affiliate link