Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Changing The Way We Think About Change

We don’t like change. It has nothing to do with being timid or unsure. We just aren’t wired to like it. As business owners and as people, change is a hassle. We have strict methods for doing certain things, little nuances and shortcuts and personal quirks, and having to toss all that out is, if nothing else, frustrating, even if we’re constantly told how good such and such change will be.

But have you ever noticed how much energy all that worrying uses. The natural reaction for any change is to assume it won’t work until proven otherwise, and if they can’t prove it we think the world is going to you know where. The world ain’t like it used to be, but spending all that time arguing and thinking of ways to turn back the big heavy hands of that clock just doesn’t make sense, especially if the old way of doing things really isn’t all that useful anymore. Sometimes the decision makers aren’t policy makers. Sometimes change is thrust upon us. But instead of complaining, the award, the contract, and even the mastodon steak goes to the person who can adapt and embrace the way things happen to be.

It’s so easy for market researchers to look backwards. Sticking with tried and true trends is safe, easy to sell to clients, but ultimately short-sighted. It’s not just playing it safe. Relying on things that aren’t true anymore never makes sense, and neither is stubborn clinging to strategies. Instead, a policy of ‘yes’ keeps you on top of what’s happening. If your strategy is to make the best with what you have, you’ll always have an advantage because there’s no one specific thing you need. You’ll always be looking for newer, better ways and stay onward and upward even if the changes really aren’t for the best. Let everyone else grumble their pessimism. You’ve got things to do.

  • Do you think it was easy for companies to abandon paper surveys, completely reorganizing filing and documentation workflows, not to mention moving the entire system online, and then changing that every few years too? You still have to admit (and your customers will demand) that paper surveys are dead. But companies who said yes are collecting feedback from mobile devices, email surveys, and even social media tracking, making the whole process easier and more effective.

  • Think game shows and things like Cash Cab are absurd. While I’m sure they annoy all of us a little bit, the smarter option is to say ‘Yes, this is something people like, so how can I use it?’ Making surveys into games by offering cash rewards for answers is a way of using this to your advantage.


When taken as a general rule, embracing change opens you and your company up to innovations you wouldn’t see otherwise, and you wouldn’t see them because you were too busy looking the wrong way at something that used to be. New trends like the so-called ‘gamification’ of surveys can be business opportunities waiting to happen, but only if you’re ready to look for it.
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