Editor’s note: “The Angel Connection” is a regular feature in WRAL Local Tech Wire. LTW asked consultant Bill Warner to share advice for entrepreneurs seeking angel investors and/or venture capital investment. He is chairman of the Triangle Accredited Capital Forum, an angel investor network with over 100 members throughout the Southeast. This article is the fourth in a series about managers and change.

RESEARCH TRIANGLE PARK, N.C. –
In his book, "Crossing the Chasm," on the topic of sales and marketing, Geoffrey Moore talks about the different characteristics of buyers. He starts with the "early adopters" and works his way through to the "late majority." Knowing how an employee is open to change can be a big help in instituting and accepting change. Let’s take a closer look at different individuals:

• Innovators – Innovators are the first 2.5 percent of the population to adopt new ideas. They are intellectual risk takers who are socially connected with other innovators. Innovators are daring and experimental and have the ability to understand and apply complex technical concepts while able to cope with a high degree of uncertainty.

• Early Adopters – Early adopters make up the next 13.5 percent of the population. They tend to be a more integrated part of the organization than the innovators. Friendships are often made and they are highly influential in developing similar opinions among their colleagues. They serve as a role model for their friends and colleagues since they are well respected by their peers. They decrease uncertainty about a new idea by adopting it, and then convey subjective evaluation of the innovation to their peers.

• The Early Majority – The early majority makes up the next 34 percent of the population and they usually adopt new ideas just before the average members of the organization. They interact frequently with their peers and provide interconnectedness in the organization. Members of the early majority take their time adopting new ideas. They follow with deliberate willingness in adopting innovations, but do not generally consider themselves agents of change.

• The Late Majority – The late majority represents the next 34 percent of the population to adopt new ideas. They are likely to respond to increasing network pressures from peers, but they approach innovations with a skeptical and cautious air.

• Resisters – The Resisters make up the last 16 percent of the population to adopt innovative changes. They influence few opinions and are often somewhat isolated. They usually make decisions based on what has been done previously and are suspicious of both innovations and change agents.

Everett Rogers’ work suggests that change becomes self-sustaining when about 15 or 20 percent of an organization accepts it. Early adopters are the most influential agents for change because they have links to both the innovators and the more conservative groups. We might think that acceptance by the majority is an indicator that changes have been fully integrated, but the job isn’t done until the resisters are won over.

About the author: Bill Warner is the managing partner of Paladin and Associates, a business consulting firm in the Research Triangle Park area of central North Carolina, and is the chairman of the Triangle Accredited Capital Forum, an angel investor network with over one hundred members throughout the southeast.