Why are people are so different when it comes to change? Some of us fully embrace it and find it exciting, while others are much more anxious.
Today I asked Alexa to play ‘soul music’ whilst decluttering and the very familiar opening orchestral arrangement followed by the emotive words ‘I was born by the river, in a little tent’ came through the speaker. Sam Cooke’s civil rights anthem was a protest song and a political statement about the need for reform. First released in 1964, the year when colour TV was pioneered, the song is now being played through a wireless voice-activated speaker. A monumental amount of change.
The Importance of change
Change is vital to moving forward. Insanity is often described as doing the same things over and over again, but expecting different results. In business and in aspects of life, it’s necessary to keep moving forward, to improve and to ensure continuous development.
Imagine where society would be if the people who feared change had been the final decision makers or if there hadn’t been enough advocates of catapulting change as the catalyst for improvement?
It was only 100 years ago when the Representation of the People Act gave women the right to vote in the UK. For current generations, this is completely normal but rewind a few more and there was a time when this was a topic that people discussed and negotiated and one which no doubt, some would have opposed.
It’s also incredible to think, in this day and age that slavery was once legal. As you start to look back through history at the major instances of change, you start to see how crucial it is.
Why change in business?
Change is just as crucial to business and without it, businesses become stagnant. They’ll eventually hit a plateau and soon discover that they’re not meeting the ever transitioning needs of their customers and are suddenly unable to compete. Having a philosophy of change in an organisation or SME is the catalyst for innovation and improvement.
Back in the early 2000s, Blockbuster, which is now part of DISH, which provides satellite TV in America, passed up the opportunity to acquire Netflix for 50 million dollars, because it considered its then DVD mailing service was too ‘niche’. Netflix now has over 50 million subscribers. They failed to see that the industry was changing. Customers wanted huge variety and convenience, something they were no longer offering.
A business that embraces change will stay focused. There is less chance of complacency because the very nature of implementing change forces the business to self-assess, communicate to employees and develop a well-structured process. Essentially what is called change management.
Change also keeps things fresh and exciting. It doesn’t matter if you’re the business owner or employee, at times it can get tedious. Shake things up and promote a culture of continuous change throughout the business and everyone will stay engaged.
It also opens the door to opportunities. If Tunafish had never changed, we’d still be solely a video production company. Expanding our core proposition has grown the agency and allowed us to work with brilliant people, for innovative clients on exciting campaigns, and isn’t that what we all go to work for?
Change is progress and it’ll happen regardless, whether you move with the times or get left behind is entirely down to you. Customer’s needs will change, whether that be because of technological advancements or market behaviour is different. Social media marketing has grown because we (consumers) started to spend so much time on it and therefore it wasn’t effective for businesses to not have this in their marketing mix.
The fear factor
The reason some people fear change while others embrace it is psychological. It’s not a weakness or flaw in personality. These reactions are written into our DNA. But it can be overcome. I’ve realised that when I go to the gym in the morning that I subconsciously always choose the same locker. I’ve also witnessed that the same people I often see in the morning, also tend to use the same locker, or at the very least be in the same part of the changing room. It’s a human desire to want to feel safe and when things are the familiar, we are in our comfort zone. In the Chimp Paradox, Steve Peters talks about everyone having a chimp who is purely emotionally led. When change happens and people get fearful, it’s our chimp worrying.
The other reason for fearing change is fear of failure. If we never change something or try different things, there’s less chance of opening ourselves up to the risk of failure. It’s essential to embrace change and accept that it won’t always work and you probably will fail, but sometimes you will also succeed. When Steve Jobs was sacked by Apple and launched NEXT, it was a commercial disaster. But the tech he and his team brilliantly innovated was later needed by Apple because in the years since he left, they were still trying to market and sell the same computer that had been so successful for them. They didn’t change. Apple later purchased the ‘NEXT’ IOS and Steve Jobs became their CEO as part of the deal. Now our homes and offices are filled with his brilliant innovations. He knew how vital it was to constantly adapt.
We can all learn to be advocates of change, even if the fear is still there. It’s a philosophy and an attitude, and that can be nurtured and encouraged. Here are 5 tips for managing and implementing change.
Have a clear goal
Set out your process for change and break your goal down into smaller steps.
Always communicate effectively at each stage or milestone
Involve other people from the business
Don’t exert energy concerning yourself with ‘What Ifs?’ Positive lessons will be taken away from the journey, regardless of the outcome.