Imagine we are back in the late 1960's and you are a high jump coach trying to convince an elite jumper to switch to the Flop.
"You must be joking - I go over backwards! I will break my neck!"
It took 10 years for the Flop to be adopted and then it was only the kids coming up who had nothing to lose who adopted it. Why if the Flop could deliver another foot of height was it so long in being adopted? This surely is the same issue that we face today as some of us talk about inserting conversation into organbizations.
Here is how Dick Fosbury saw the challenge.
WHEN 21-year-old Dick Fosbury broke the Olympic high jump record by clearing the bar with his back to it at the 1968 Summer Games in Mexico City, track and field traditionalists were aghast.
It came during a decade of turbulence in which many traditions were wrenched painfully from their moorings.
It came during an Olympics chock full of precedents (26 of a possible 30 track records shattered) and stark drama such as the black glove protest of sprinters Tommie Smith and John Carlos during the national anthem.
Fosbury's act was not a political statement. But to some, it was just as unsettling.
"Kids imitate champions," said U.S. Olympic coach Payton Jordan at the time. "If they try to imitate Fosbury, he will wipe out an entire generation of high jumpers because they will all have broken necks."
Fosbury laughed long and hard this week when reminded of that quote.
"I do remember that and it was well put," said the partially graying 52-year-old who still maintains a sturdy 6-foot-4, 187-pound physique.
His stunning, and almost comical, break with the conventional straddle high jump sparked a revolution in the sport.
Today, the "Fosbury Flop" is the standard technique for high jumpers from high school to the Olympics.
But Fosbury still recalls the debate that raged in the press over his radical approach to the bar.
"There were some doctors who felt I was threatening kids' lives," he said.
In fact, the worst thing that Fosbury can recall ever happening to him while using the technique was missing the pit once in high school. Nor can he recall any flopper injuring himself or herself on a pit landing.
The false impression created by first observation of the Fosbury Flop was that the jumper landed on his neck, inviting disaster.
"Actually the jumpers land on their shoulders," Fosbury said.
But he made the world hold its breath at Mexico City.
"Spectators were in awe the first time they saw it," Fosbury said. "I remember the stadium was packed full with 80,000 people. As I went from the warmups to the competition, and the bar kept raising higher, there were 80,000 people going silent, watching this kid, this 'gringo,' take his mark, and rock back and forth preparing to take a jump."
Before the 1968 Summer Games, athletes used the straddle method -- clearing the bar with lead arm and leg and then the stomach. But even after Fosbury's record jump (7 feet, 4 1/4inches) was televised to America, tradition died hard.
"The problem with something revolutionary like that was that most of the elite athletes had invested so much time in their technique and movements that they didn't want to give it up, so they stuck with what they knew," Fosbury said.
He said it took a full decade before the flop began to dominate the sport.
"The revolution came about from the kids who saw it, and had nothing to lose. The kids who saw it on TV and said, 'Gosh, that looks fun -- let's do that.' Grade school kids who didn't have coaches who would say, 'No, you stick with the straddle.' "