The last decade has witnessed a growing interest in the promotion and use of innovation as a means of improving public services. Rafts of central government initiatives exist to promote, support and learn from innovative activity. This paper examines the adoption of a new, innovative service in a social work setting in the UK, namely family group conferencing. It explores the rate and pattern of the adoption of this service innovation by Councils with Social Service Responsibilities (CSSRs). It examines the implementation process and identifies: resources, professional resistance, risk, the role of central government and champions amongst the factors that facilitated and inhibited its use in three case study sites.