Innovation or disruption is violent and risky

One thing I didn’t really understand when I worked in international business is why change is so difficult.  I can’t stand wasting hours every day on something that could readily be automated with a limited investment.  I also hate bureaucracy.  Yet, any time I tried to change things I faced immense resistance.  It didn’t make a whole lot of sense.  Why keep doing things inefficiently if there’s a better and easier way?

What I’ve come to learn is that innovation or disruption is violent and risky.  Change is scary.  You may have a great product or solution that you want to convince your manager or an organization to take on and yet it isn’t as easy as just saying here it is.  There is risk involved because taking a chance and failing is far more noticeable than failing because you followed the status quo.  It’s sad, but its true in most cases.

In order to overcome such resistance it helps to look at it from the perspective of the people you’re pitching the change to.

You need to clearly explain the context by answering:

“What is this? Why do I need it?”

You need to understand what you might be implying by how you present your alternative:

“Are you saying I’m stupid or that we’re stupid?  Are you implying everything we do now is stupid?”

You need to understand the risks faced by the person or organization you’re trying to convince:

“What if it doesn’t work?  Will I be laughed at?  Will I get fired?”

Thus you can’t change anything if you don’t clearly explain the context, do so in a way that doesn’t imply stupidity and overcome inherent risks.  If you can’t do that, don’t expect buy in no matter how good your product, solution or idea is.