Business Performance Consulting, Customer Development, empathy, Innovation

The threat of “the new”

"fail" by @gapingvoid

“fail” by @gapingvoid

Assuming you live long enough, and are blessed/cursed to live in interesting times, at some point you will be confronted by something new that you neither expected nor appreciate. Sometimes these things will be coming from outside – for example a new technology, a new trend,  or a threat to your livelihood. However, often the new thing will be coming from inside you in some way – an idea, a concern, or a fear.

What happens when confronted with “the new”, whether it be from within or without, is a creation of dissonance occurs. This dissonance is between two perspectives:  the way you thought the world was before the disruption and the way you think the world might be because of the disruption. Presumably you felt safe or at least accustomed to your world view pre-disruption, now there’s this new confusing bewildering world in front of you.

This doesn’t only happen because of big cataclysmic events or major upheavals – it happens every day – observe the stress people incur if their usual route to work is under construction, a new computer program is introduced to staff, or a policy is updated.

Where people work, where they have built in routines – in commuting, in shopping. . .wherever – can be the most stable places for them. Their homes may be in complete chaos, their lives full of existential angst – so if new routines are forced upon them they will resist. This resistance is predictable and, I would argue, a good thing. They should resist.  The reason why people so often resist “the new” isn’t because they don’t like new things, it’s because they weren’t engaged in the change. This happens in governments, in business, in non-profits. People think they know what is best for others, they implement a change, and they fail. They fail because of their arrogance. They fail because they should, because they haven’t learned what people actually want.

The “solution” to this is to actually engage people personally in what you are designing, right from the start. I know, it sounds simple but it’s not. This engagement informs and changes everything about what you’ll build, and it should. If what you want to do is hope for the best then please, go ahead a build what’s in your head, impose on the world your grand design. Maybe it will work.

On the other hand, if you want to bring something of value into the world, engage with the people you presumably want to help. They’ll help you in return.






One thought on “The threat of “the new”

  1. Reblogged this on Bruce E. Hoffman.

    Posted by bruceehoffman | August 1, 2015, 1:15 am

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