Change is rarely welcomed and frequently denied.
Fear underlies a desire to remain the same. Fear keeps you from changing.
Fear’s cost can be very high. For one of the largest companies in America, it cost about $6 billion.
Everyone’s Afraid of Something
As a consultant at one of the country’s largest information technology (IT) consulting firms, I lived the painful reality that people are afraid of change.
It was my job to scan the horizon, anticipate future opportunities and threats, and determine an action plan. Not only did I predict trends, but I needed to stay ahead of them.
I am incredibly good at assessing the current state and predicting possible and probable future states. I easily identify gaps. I determine the best course of action to close the gap. Then, I line up the team to succeed and coach them to win the game.
The biggest challenge came when I saw a nasty hairball of disaster looming on the horizon, and I had to deliver the bad news. To the boss. To the client. To the CEO.
I’m blunt, honest, and to the point. Sugar coating is something I want on my M&Ms, not on my bad news. I assumed everyone else liked it that way too. My growing reputation as Negative Nancy proved otherwise.
Like the famous quote from A Few Good Men, people prefer to stick their heads in the sand than to accept change is coming. Sometimes, we simply can’t handle the truth. Don’t want to admit it.
Denial serves us when change confronts us.
The large video retailer was a $6B company when I joined them as director of client services in 2000. DVD started to surpass VHS rentals. The industry was at a turning point. This meant business was about to change. Big time.
Analyzing the business model, I saw an opportunity: As a customer, the video retailer sucked time out of your day by forcing you to return the product you rented. Time is one seriously precious factor to everyone. And here we stole it from customers daily! Not only did we steal time from them, but we also penalized them with late fees. A double whammy!
Technology was changing. Times were changing. DVDs were a completely different beast compared to VHS. How could we harness this change to positively affect our business model? For one, DVD physically weighs far less than VHS. Two, DVD used digital imaging to transpose the content to the disk. How could we re-build our strategy to take advantage of these two critical changes?
I asked my boss if the company ever considered different product delivery mechanisms. He said they conducted research, and the cheapest delivery method to the home was US Postal Service. Period. End of sentence. He was done discussing. He took the idea, and threw it in the trash. Next. (Hello Netflix).
With the technological advances in the digital space, the possibilities were endless. Let’s set up a server in the store with a catalog of movies, reduce store square footage to almost nothing, and burn DVDs on demand. After all, isn’t video on demand the future? Heck, at some point in the future, you could have a catalog of movies sitting on a server in your living room (fast-forward to today & the DVR). As technology advanced, bytes were increasing, but space constraints were decreasing. In other words, you could store a crap load of data on an increasingly smaller device.
This was an amazing time to live at the intersection of technology and business change. I had the forethought. I was on the cutting edge of what if. But no one would buy what I was selling because change is rarely welcomed and frequently denied.
In April 2011, the large video retailer was bought at auction for $233 million.
What’s fear of change costing you? Do you need of a major transformation, and yet can’t accept that change is needed? I will coach you through it. Trust your future to an expert in transformation.
Where do you want to start?
About Christine Boudreau: From trailer park to country club, Christine’s history proves you can beat the odds and achieve great success. Today, she leads high-potential people through growth, change, and transition to accomplish goals and reach their maximum effectiveness. For more information about her, read Christine’s Bio.