28 Thoughts

Change Is The Enemy Of The Competent

A long time ago when I started helping companies interpret how to use the Internet I was met with a significant level of negativity.

During my tenure as the Chairman of the retail side of the British Music Industry, one particular retailer who thought that I was “representing the Internet” said that he would make sure I was “shut down”.

Years later I was laughed at in boardrooms when explaining to supermarkets they could sell groceries online.

After this I was kicked out of meetings for talking about the virtualisation of physical products and services.

Within the last six years I’ve been taken aside and quietly told that I have no right to talk about “digital black magic” to serious businessmen. Told instead to “bring back proof and case studies to show how markets had been re-defined online”.

At the time though, no case studies existed and the only proof we had was from Cern, considered to be unrelated to commerciality by many organisations.

As I cut my teeth as a private adviser I was invited by the Government to discuss how the effect of the web could be “slowed down”.

In February 2006, when I announced the forthcoming trend in permission mobile marketing, I was cornered in a corridor by two very angry traditional advertising guys who were absolutely furious that I was “rocking the boat”. Over my entire career I’ve faced these reactions. I’m used to it.

You can’t win against them by arguing back. You can’t win by entering into long debates. To some people the existence of absolute indisputable evidence is the only thing they will accept – but actually that’s not it. I’ve realised that their issue is not the actual issue.

The fact is, change is the enemy of the competent as it re-defines the safe place within which the competent dwell.

The competent cannot stand change. Ultimately it makes them scared as what they think they know is being challenged.

If anything changes, the only way they feel comfortable is if they can pragmatically re-design the walls of their safe place, at their speed and within their level of understanding, without rocking any boats.

However change doesn’t wait for that, hence being so unattractive. Change is persistent and unrelenting in the face of those who resist.

As the Chinese proverb says: “When the winds of change are blowing, some build a shelter, others build a windmill.”

I’m in the windmill business. Are you?

Taken from 28 Thoughts - see 'books' on the menu. This post was essentially the launchpad into Powered By Change.