in May 2006
Church Leaders Part 3
By David Lee Jr., PhD
Trialability: Setting up a test drive.
Editor’s Note: This is the third
installment of a five-part series.
Most of us want to test-drive an
innovation before we decide to purchase it.
Most of us want to test-drive a
technology before we recommend it to a client.
Church leaders also want to test-drive
new communication technologies before they purchase them
for use in their Houses of Worship. In fancy terms, Rogers
labeled testing or experimenting with an innovation as “trialability”
[see Part 2, April 2006, referring to Everett M. Rogers’
Diffusion of Innovations, Fifth Edition].
Rogers argued that an innovation
has a greater possibility of being adopted if it can be
tested or observed in operation. In Part 2, I presented
a brief overview of Rogers’ theory, which maintains
that five primary attributes help to explain the adoption
or rejection of an innovation: (a) relative advantage, (b)
compatibility, (c) complexity, (d) trialability and (e)
observ- ability. An innovation that has greater perceived
advantages, that is compatible with the existing values
of a person or organization, that is reasonably easy to
use, that can be tried or tested and that provides positive,
observable results has the greatest opportunity of being
In our context as systems integrators,
the trialability attribute suggests that providing opportunities
for church leaders to experiment with media technologies
can help these leaders evaluate the advantages of technologies,
evaluate how the technology fits in with the social system
in their House of Worship and evaluate the complexity of
using the innovation. Thus, understanding the trialability
attribute is important for communicating with church leaders
and other clients.
In Part 1 [April 2005] and 2, I
pointed out that most church leaders do not have much knowledge
about sophisticated audio and video equipment. You can help
them determine the innovations they need by setting up test-drives
of various types of media technologies.
Most of you reading this know well
that setting up opportunities for church leaders to experiment
with media technologies can range from a simple visit and
setup to a complicated venture. For example, arranging a
demo of a wireless microphone typically would be considered
a simple event. Arranging a demo of a line array, however,
most likely would be viewed as a complicated or costly event.
There are a few approaches you
can pursue to provide an opportunity for church leaders
to experiment with communication technologies. For leaders
seeking smaller technologies such as wireless microphones
or CD recorders,
• allow them to experiment with as many innovations
as you can
• let them use this level of simple technologies for
a week or so in their environment
• take the time to demo and train them how to use
the innovation. Obviously, if you make sure the equipment
is set up properly and they have a good understanding of
how to use the innovation, the more likely they will have
a positive experience using the equipment. In addition,
you could allow them to try a variety of models and manufacturers
of an innovation (such as wireless microphones), ranging
from less-expensive to expensive. Setting up a demo in such
a fashion is important because it will help church leaders
understand both the quality that meets their communication
need and the cost that fits their budget.
You probably already employ these
ideas or your own approach when simple-to-use or smaller
technologies are sought. However, arranging a demo of complex
media technologies such as large audio line-array systems
or powerful video-projection systems is a challenge. Here
is a real-world example of how I addressed this problem
A large House of Worship I am working
with has determined that it needs to upgrade its audio,
video projection and video production equipment. We are
designing a major upgrade of its communication technologies.
I had arranged for vendors to bring in and demo many of
these media technologies. Some demos in the environment
are a must. However, a solution I came up with, which is
working so far in this case, was arranging for the leaders
at this House of Worship to attend the upcoming InfoComm
in Orlando in June.
Getting these and other church
leaders into InfoComm will cost less than arranging a shootout
between the audio and video technologies needed in this
particular House of Worship. These church leaders will be
able to touch and observe a vast amount of media technologies
in one setting. The vendors I am recommending are very happy
to give special attention to my guests. I believe this could
happen with your clients as well.
Obviously, there are situations
where a demo in the actual venue is the only way that leaders
can experiment with certain media technologies. And the
most likely way you can win the contract. However, whether
church leaders are allowed to experiment with technologies
in their setting or if they attend an event such as InfoComm
or AES or NSCA, this points out that the trialability attribute
and the need for setting up a test-drive of new communication
technologies for church leaders is important for us to understand.
We have to develop more creative
ways of setting up test-drives for our clients. So I encourage
you to find ways to get the communication technologies into
the hands of church leaders to test-drive. Communicating
with church leaders is vital to winning the media contract.
Your willingness to set up test-drives will go a long way
toward helping church leaders understand and purchase the
technologies you recommend.
Lee, PhD, is CEO of Lee Communication Inc., and a member
Sound & Communications’ Technical Council.
He travels extensively around the
world consulting with churches, organizations and governments.
comments to him at firstname.lastname@example.org.