Don’t Let Fear of Change Block Innovation

by Mike Brown

Don't Let Fear of Change Block InnovationThe question came up during a recent innovation training session about how to deal with the fear of change which can cripple efforts to introduce innovative business ideas into an organization.

One of the best ways to conquer this innovation roadblock is the widespread understanding and belief that an organization’s current path will be much worse without innovation. Think an organization’s impending financial collapse. As I paraquoted Butthead in a recent tweet, “For creating change, financial crises kick ass.”

If you don’t have a financial crisis to throw into the change mix, however, coupling an emotional appeal with legitimate customer and marketplace insights is a next best option to counteract the fear of change.

Which emotional appeals are best to use in pushing innovation? Here are five to consider:

  1. Excitement – What about a potential innovation-centered future is much more compelling personally and organizationally than the current state?
  2. Wonder – Are there elements of the future state which will make today’s reality pale in comparison?
  3. Safety – Can a new situation deliver levels of comfort and peace of mind unimaginable without substantial change?
  4. Hopefulness – Will knowing more about what is to come create a motivating sense of anticipation for the results which follow near-term change?
  5. Ambition – Is there a brighter financial future awaiting those who make it through impending change and whatever pain it may bring?

Each of these emotional appeals can help drive successful organizational change strategy, but the important question is what strategies have worked for you to make change more palatable?

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Mike BrownMike Brown is an award-winning innovator in strategy, communications, and experience marketing. He authors the BrainzoomingTM blog, and serves as the company’s chief Catalyst. He wrote the ebook “Taking the NO Out of InNOvation” and is a frequent keynote presenter.

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  1. Great points Mike. Change Management can help reduce resistance and build engagement and commitment. The real ROI here is in the connection between strategic intent and delivery (credit Conner Partners) related to speed of adoption, proficiency and ultimate utilization (Prosci).

    We recently issued a white paper on this issue that may be of interest “Call to Action: Power innovation bandwidth with the 9 pistons of the Change Management engine”.

    It is available here .

  2. All the more reason that we must communicate change; these are excellent motivating factors for helping people embrace change and perform at a higher level. The key is for leaders to hold out the carrot of “wonder” and “excitement” in order to take innovation/change to the next level.

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