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Uncovering Resistance to Innovation: Why Some People Prefer the Familiar Routine


Innovation is a transformative force that drives progress and evolution in all areas of life. However, it is important to remember that not everyone embraces the new and revolutionary with open arms. Many people prefer the security of a predictable, familiar routine. For those who are advocates of innovation, this mindset can be difficult to understand. However, throughout your career, you are likely to encounter many people who are simply uncomfortable with innovation, and you will need to learn how to work with them. The first step to reaching an agreement is understanding. So let's look at some of the reasons why people sometimes feel uncomfortable with innovation.

1. The Fear of Change

Change is not always comfortable. We are all, to some degree, naturally inclined to fear change because our brains are wired to protect us. Anything new represents a risk, it's like a breach of trust for our brain, and this instantly creates stress. However, some individuals have become less risk averse than others and are able to see the benefits of pushing the boundaries of their comfort zones. These people are the innovators, because they know that on the other side of change, there is usually a great reward.

2. The Belief That the New Process or Product Will Not Work

The old saying "if it ain't broke, don't fix it" it is sometimes left aside in the innovation process, replacing features that people already appreciate in favor of innovative solutions. This often works, with the new features improving on the previous concept. However, the changes can also have the opposite effect. People often worry that changes will make a process worse rather than better. This is a valid concern. Just look at the case of Strongbow Cider, which changed the formula in the US in 2014, alienating customers across the country who preferred the old formula. Innovation needs to be accompanied by caution, research and common sense to be successful, and many people are skeptical about trying to improve something that customers already appreciate.

3. Feeling of Threat

Many executives and organizational leaders have difficulty embracing innovation because change can make them feel threatened. It's easy to feel like your boss has the final say and no consequences, since there's typically a lot of pressure on executives from shareholders. They may feel threatened by change and fear being replaced as change sweeps the office.

4. Lack of Creativity

Many people who resist innovation are more inclined towards logic than creativity. Being comfortable with innovation often means having lots of creative ideas and not being afraid to test them. Everyone has different skill sets, and some people just don't think as creatively as others.

5. Caution

Understandably, some people are cautious about innovation. Mistakes can be costly, and while failure is part of the innovation process, diving in headfirst can result in big losses. Those who are cautious may not be uncomfortable with innovation itself, but rather with the speed of progress and change. Sometimes a specific idea may not suit the organization at the moment, but it may do so in the future. It's good to be a little cautious in innovation, as long as that caution doesn't inhibit creativity.

6. Avoid Failure at All Costs

Failure is a normal part of the innovation process, but many people refuse to accept this fact. Instead, they have unrealistic expectations of innovations and innovators or simply avoid new ideas. No one is exempt from the failure aspect of innovation. Many large companies have had famous innovations that failed, including Pepsi, Ford, and even Apple. These companies had products that failed for various reasons: the target market was not defined, the product was too expensive, the idea was outside the context of the brand, among others. Creative people need to accept that not all ideas are successful, which can be difficult for some.

Understanding Non-Innovators

Although it's easy to get frustrated with people who aren't innovative or creative when you're full of ideas, it's very important to learn how to work with them. These people bring something valuable to the table, albeit in a different way than innovators. In addition to needing to work with executives, like a COO, who care about innovation efforts, you also need to have all employees on board as this creates a strong organizational culture. While you can't make everyone around you feel completely comfortable with the idea of change, it's important not to dismiss their concerns. Instead, try to understand these concerns and work together to find an acceptable compromise on innovation issues.

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