Is Being an Early Adopter Bad?


By Jane Massey, United Methodist Communications

"I need a blog. I must have a blog by next week. … What's a blog?"
—Colleague in a meeting

My friend and former coworker just wanted to be relevant and catch up with an alarmingly changed business landscape.

It's hard to resist the siren calls of marketing "gurus/ninjas" who speak in extreme hyperbole about the promises of technology.

"This is a game-changer, a disruptive but agile seismic shift to the paradigm,” someone announces. Who doesn't want to be a game-changer who shifts the paradigm with agility?

"Trendy technologies never live up to the hype cycle until they do," according to researcher and author Jennifer Fenn.

Where’s the “easy" button in the shiny "Me, too!" world?

SXSWi, technology's "it" conference, ended recently, so the news is buzzing about must-have emerging technologies. From virtual reality (VR) to artificial intelligence (AI) to the latest app, it's distractingly fun and overwhelming.

But It's also easy to adopt before thinking — focusing on a new tool without considering context or strategy and how to sustain them.

Define what you want to accomplish within a designated time through a solid church strategy.

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Digital tools are catalysts of change, not solutions.

After all, it's hard to eat ice cream if you only have a corkscrew!

“Digital tools absolutely enable a new dynamic, a peer-to-peer relationship between organizations and [the people served]," writes Matt Ridings, social media and marketing consultant. "Unless you're an entrepreneur, though, pretty much everybody else is using the same tool you just discovered. So, how are you going to stand out?"

Begin by asking the right questions before making ministry investments:

Technology, while great, will not fix bad church strategy. TWEET THIS TWEET THIS

Be an early adopter of the practical

It's good to be an early adopter! Just be practical and strategic. Do your research. Technology, while great, will not develop or fix bad church strategies.

  • Try a new technology first. See how it helps in your personal life. Discover how your peers use it to reach an audience similar to yours. Keep your potential users foremost in mind. If you cannot help them do something more easily with the tool, they're unlikely to use it.
  • New social media tools launch (and die) almost daily. Focus where your members are, and master those. Remember the adage: A jack of all social networks is a master of none.
  • Refer often to your original goals. It's easy to lose sight of early objectives somewhere between the idea and implementation. (It always takes longer than you expect.) It's OK if you discover new goals and discard old ones as you move forward, so be flexible but true to the original intention.