Why is change so difficult?

It is ironic that the most prevalent and dominant characteristic of modern life is also the most feared: change. This fear is not limited to technological change, but to many aspects of our individual and professional lives. The pace of change in medicine, science, communications, transportation, and many other dimensions of modern life seems to be accelerating.

It took more than forty years for the telephone to be adopted by 25% of the population of the US. More recently, it took less than 4 years for the Internet to be used by 25% of the US population.  The first billion iPhone apps were downloaded over the course of the year July 2008 to July 2009. Now, iPhone apps are downloaded at a pace in excess of a billion per month.

Yet, many people resist change in the workplace – preferring to stick to doing things the way they know, often to the detriment of the company’s progress. When presented with something innovative, sometimes it is easier or less risky to simply make excuses. 

Psychologists tell us that we resist change out of fear, and this is definitely true for businesses in times of economic uncertainty. But what kinds of opportunities for achieving great success are we missing by avoiding that perceived risk? Perhaps the greatest opportunity for business success is to be innovative and leading the change, rather than waiting for everyone else to blaze the trail, forcing us to follow later, thus missing out on the achievement of industry-leading benefits.

As the year draws to a close, let’s all resolve to be more innovative over the course of the next year – do something new and different for ourselves and for our companies. I bet we will be very pleased we did.

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