You’re going to like irrelevance even less

As a senior retail executive and consultant I’ve worked on more strategic growth and innovation projects than I can possibly enumerate.

Regardless of the size, industry sector or maturity stage of the company, every effort has had a common denominator: risk. And every one has had a common enemy too: fear–or, more specifically, fear of change. Fear of change is always the bogeyman to be conquered, the dragon that must be slain.

To be sure, some of my employers or clients have been better at managing change than others. Yet the fear of change is always there, sometimes lurking like a ravenous lion ready to pounce, other times it is right up in our faces, obvious for all to see. Unless conquered, progress simply doesn’t happen, innovation is stalled.

Years ago, despite what was espoused, most of these efforts were really seen as optional–as “nice to do’s.” Of course, we’d like to grow faster. Obviously we want to be seen as innovative. Naturally, more or different might be better. Yet as a practical matter, unless the initiative operated well within our comfort zone, the chances we’d actually take the plunge we’re rather small indeed.

Yet what’s different now–what matters more and more–is that change can rarely be viewed as optional. Increasingly, the status quo is a prescription for disaster. Legacy brands are being challenged by disruptive technology. Once stable customer loyalty bonds are fraying. What worked splendidly before is now merely a dim signal amidst the noise. The tried and true is anything but.

It’s becoming hard to ascribe a value or judgment to change. It is neither good, nor bad, neither easy, nor hard. It just is.

And, as a wise person once said “if you don’t like change, you’re going to like irrelevance even less.”


One thought on “You’re going to like irrelevance even less

  1. Fear is a huge driving factor but it works differently in different people. For the true leaders and innovators it works towards their continual push for improvements and innovation even when on the top. For the rest it acts as a deterrent for change, action. It basically takes the life out of people (not just in business) and that’s sad and we see it every day.

    I read a book a few years ago called “Feel the the fear and do it anyway” which addressed this well.

    In corporations people’s fear of various things gets in the mix of the ultimate goal, which is why only once in a while a true leader emerges that can actually change the culture. Easier said than done but possible if it comes with real conviction – from the top or from the consumers talking with their wallets.

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