Why are we afraid to change right now?

Why are we afraid to change right now?… this is a central question in this days, but it doesn’t seem so easy to find a clear answer.

Image: Shutterstock

Are our fears related to the uncertainty of the situation? …or a sort of “spirit of conservation”? In any case we have a sort of moral duty to deal with this topic within our organizations.
Most organizations see innovation as a top strategic priority. This has been happening for some time, but the pandemic has intensified the desire to make big changes and take appropriate risks to ensure long-term growth and minimize the probability of being disrupted in the future.

I remember when we started to face up to this pandemic (early this year), I wrote some considerations about how this situation could represent an accelerator of the changing processes (or not), but also how the real change had to be more “in-depth”.

[…] This pandemic isn’t a real innovation’s accelerator, but more a factor in breacking our inability to receive this innovation as well as – first of all – an implementator of resilience (as it has been for many other crisis situations in the past). The technologies that are rapidly permeating our working days were all already available, but we were often unable to make the effort to understand their value (especially in terms of productivity’s increase) and to revise our habits and “rituals”. […]


It was mid-April. We had strong uncertainties but, day by day, with a partial recovery in the medical situation, we probably believed all this would be just a “parenthesis” in our life and in the evolution of our companies. Here we are. Now we know that’s not the case: we are still at the point of having to face all this central issues!

So… Why do companies struggle with innovation? And why right now?
I found one interesting interpretation (or Point Of View) in a short article by Tomas Chamorro-Premuzic on Forbes.

[…]It is not because they lack creative ideas, or have the wrong strategy, or because they don’t have the right talent. Rather, it is an inability to unleash the talent and energy of those who are most likely to drive change, innovation, and progress – their entrepreneurial employees.[…]

Dr. Tomas Chamorro-Premuzic.

We have to understand that in large corporations (and also mid-sized classical, hyerarchical established organizations) stability, not change, is the dominant currency and – therefore – the very reason why they are so vulnerable to disruption. So, we know that stability is a key also (and perhaps above all) in Agile organisations and/or in the transition processes or during disruptive changes. Inspired by the study of Pulakos, Kantrowitz e Schneider “What leads to organizational Agility?” I largely discussed that theme in my article “Hai detto vendere?“. However, we must clarify how in this context “stability” basically means a psychological state, associated with the employees of an organization, who perceive a sense of security and confidence regarding their role and the direction that the company is following; this state strongly helps to strengthen the commitment of individuals and to maintain their focus on the work to be done. Therefore “stability” is something that has more to do with the “purpose” of the company and the “mindset” of the employees, than with the structure of the organisation.

We can say that, during changing processes, innovation is basically the practical implementation of creativity, then entrepreneurship is the force that turns creativity into innovation. When this force is harbored in large corporations it is often referred to it as intrapreneurship, with intrapreneurs behaving very much like entrepreneurs but in more structured, hierarchical, and traditional settings. This is precisely why they are often not valued as much as they should: because they fail to conform, follow rules, or perpetuate the status quo.
Yes “status quo” is probably one of the key issues to think about… I repeat: especially now!

[…] It is also noteworthy that, when organizations obsess over hiring for “culture fit” they inadvertently hinder their ability to innovate, rewarding those who are naturally suited to the current way of working, thinking, and doing, as opposed to those who can inject fresh thinking and act as a positive agent of change. […]

…says Dr. Chamorro-Premuzic.

So here we are, the drive always comes frome the “culture”: if you don’t have a culture of innovation, even the best strategy in the world will be reduced to metaphysics! This is true at any level… when we talk about “Company Culture” we think of a mindset a “pervasive mindset” which – moreover – provides sufficient license to those entrepreneurial employees who are capable of executing the company’s innovation strategy.

Image: Shutterstock

Let’s (re)start from the beginning. This pandemic (todays general situation) isn’t a real innovation’s accelerator, but more a factor in breacking our inability to receive this innovation. And so why are we afraid to change right now? The keyworld is “disruption”. Disruption doesn’t mean instability or uncertainty, au contraire… We must have the courage to change our mindset! To grow, we must challenge what we know, do, and have done, and engage in creative destruction to focus on future growth.

We have to forget the past.

[…] You don’t need to build on it, unless the future rewards it. Do not base your budget on past performance or tweak products (ideas, strategies) that used to work brillantly. That kind of strategic thinking led Nokia (and other great companies) to fall off the cliff. […]

say A. Yeung and D. Ulrich in their recent book “Reinventing the organisation”.

But are we ready? Are we ready (even individually) to take the way of real change and – as I wrote at the beginning of the pandemic – not only superficially? We must realize that this is no longer an opportunity… but a real need.


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