Change and Innovation

There is no novelty in the fact that carrying change, in whatever dimension, is a difficult task. Already in 1513 Niccolo Machiavelli affirmed that “there is no more delicate matter to take in hand, nor more dangerous to conduct, nor more doubtful on its success, then to be a leader in the introduction of changes”.

Fast Company has a very interesting article titled “Change or Die” where they explore the resistance to change most people offer even when critical matters are at the stake. “The conventional wisdom says that crisis is a powerful motivator for change. But severe heart disease is among the most serious of personal crises, and it doesn’t motivate — at least not nearly enough. Nor does giving people accurate analyses and factual information about their situations. What works? Why, in general, is change so incredibly difficult for people? What is it about how our brains are wired that resists change so tenaciously? Why do we fight even what we know to be in our own vital interests?”.

Understanding why people oppose change and how the process can be worked out is vital to unlock innovation. As prof. Clayton Christensen says there are three factors that will determine what an organization can and what it can not do: its resources, its processes and its values. Most companies have the resources to cope with innovation, after all this is the most flexible factor. People can be trained, specialists can be hired, technologies can be licensed and equipment can be purchased. Processes are more tough to be redefined, but with right approach an organization should be able to set them. Where most companies fail in the face of discontinuities is when they need to change their managerial framework, change their culture and change their values. So yes the article nailed the point: Change or Die!

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