Download: Refusing To Change Is A Dangerous Thing
Change is inevitable. This is a fact of life. In fact, it is a fact of existence. All aspects of life and existence in the universe speak to this fact. The famous quote by Heraclitus that says, “The Only Constant in Life Is Change.” couldn’t be truer.
Even though this fact of change being inevitable is so obvious, most of us are not prepared to readily deal with and accept it. We stubbornly stick to our ways, even when maintaining a certain course is at our own detriment. We often do not realise how dangerous refusing to change is to our lives, be it in our personal lives or in business, until it is too late.
Since individuals are usually resistant to change, the businesses and organisations they run also follow a similar pattern. Organisations may experience stunted growth or even fail miserably, when a timely change would have had major differences and positive outcomes.
Nokia was a thriving cell phone company in the 90’s.The Finnish giant was at the time, the largest cell phone maker in 1998. But where are they now? The company still exists today, but is now a mere shell of its former glory.
One would think that an organisation holding such a dominant position, in one of the most lucrative industries, would have taken steps to secure its future. But it didn’t. Why not? There are a lot of other reasons why Nokia eventually failed, but the main reason had to do with change – or a lack thereof. The main reason for their failure was the inability to innovate. In other words, Nokia failed to change with the times.
The company failed to innovate fast enough, and go with the changing technology trends in the industry. Within a decade from Nokia’s highest point of success, the smartphone revolution was just starting, and smartphones appeared on the scene, with Android and the iPhone eventually taking away huge market share from the company.
The Nokia CEO is famously quoted in a press conference as saying that, “we didn’t do anything wrong, but somehow, we lost.”. Whilst Nokia did “nothing wrong”, they had become too complacent in their success.
They refused to change and innovate fast enough. They failed to take advantage of their success to secure their future. No matter how successful you are, bear in mind that change affects everyone, and we should all be prepared for it.
It is not only Nokia that failed to evolve and learn forward, in order to secure their future. History is littered with cautionary tales of how successful businesses failed to innovate and secure their futures.
From Kodak, a technology company that dominated the photographic film industry during most of the 20th century, to Yahoo which was one of the leading players in the online advertising space, but failed to realise the value of search, favouring traditional media outlets instead.
You would think that this is a lesson that should be written on the wall for those who enjoy success, at the time they are successful, in order for them to secure their futures. But again and again, businesses fail to manage change. The only explanation for this is human nature. Some of the reasons people refuse to change are outlined below.
Change is oftentimes difficult, because the people facing the choice to change are usually faced with a dilemma. They are often in a very favourable position at the time it is necessary to make a change. Just like Nokia, Kodak, Yahoo and many other companies.
Being in the comfort zone prevents us from making the necessary changes, because we are in constant fear of losing the good things we are presently enjoying, and by the time it becomes necessary to change, and we are forced to do so by circumstances, it is often too late.
Every day, life is full of uncertainty. No one knows what the future holds and making necessary change awakens this fear within us. So we stay in the comfort zone for fear of the uncertainty we face if we make a change.
It is easier for someone who is in an unfavourable position to make changes to improve their situation, than it is for someone in a comfortable position. People in unfavourable circumstances, have little to lose by making the changes that may improve their circumstances. It is a different story altogether for those who are presently in a favourable position.
Predicting the future is hard. But we must try our level best to anticipate change, so that we can prepare for it. Life is unpredictable, and when we cannot see the future clearly, we tend to dig deeper in our comfort zone.
This is tied in with the fear of the unknown I discussed earlier. Because life is unpredictable, we fear change. But by doing so, we might feel safer not taking action, but are bound to fall into the trap of failing to change, and innovate in time to avert disaster.
The unpredictability of life brings before us circumstances beyond our control, but even then, we have the responsibility to ourselves to anticipate and prepare for them.
Change rarely feels natural, because we are often stuck in our old ways and routines. This is why it is difficult to change, the older we get. The older we get, the harder it is to change and also, the longer we are in business, the harder it is to change.
Old people and old businesses often do things the way they have done them over the years, and are often resistant to change. This is why it is crucial to encourage the introduction and sharing of new ideas, so that we are more prepared to realise when it is time to change.
Anticipating change and taking the necessary action means that we encounter new situations. Situations we have not faced before, or are inexperienced to handle well. Making significant changes in the life of a business, or our personal lives, means that we will make mistakes.
When we make changes in response to, or in anticipation of change, there will be times when we will fall flat on our faces, and make a fool of ourselves. This might make us feel incompetent and hurt our pride. It is important to put your ego aside, when dealing with necessary change.
There is always inertia when a change is necessary. It is hard to start moving when you are stationary, and also hard to stop when you are in motion. This is inertia. It is easier to maintain the status quo.
Making necessary change requires energy and resources: time included. At times these may be resources we do not have, but often what is really lacking is the commitment and strength of will to do what needs to be done.
As already discussed, change is inevitable, and we have seen that people in businesses have made the same mistake of not being prepared to anticipate and initiate change. Is there something we can do to avoid the mistakes they have made?
The answer is, most definitely, and the key is conscious deliberate effort. We have to anticipate change and be prepared to implement necessary change. We should even go as far as writing down concrete plans that address future possibilities and eventualities.
This means we have to seek and encourage input from as many credible sources as possible, so that we are able to act when change is necessary. Knowledge is the most vital ingredient to dealing with change. But most importantly, the willingness to commit and make necessary changes, has to be cultivated and nurtured. For refusing to change is a dangerous thing indeed. Just ask Nokia.
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