Many a studies have shown that people have a very reliable and tangible preference for traditions. We genuinely prefer to perform a task in a particular way if that’s how we have been doing it for a long time. We are convinced that ours is the most efficient way of getting the work done, if an alternative approach is proposed. Nobel Award winner Daniel Kahneman, in his work ‘Thinking Fast And Slow’, calls it The Cognitive Ease.
If we are asked to change our way of performing a task, it makes us feel strained, more vigilant and suspicious. We invest more effort in performing the work and feel less comfortable with it nevertheless. We receive a powerful subconscious signal to resist the change. New way of performing a familiar task is an unknown quantity and we do not embrace it with ease. Over several years, our resistance to change takes the form of a definitive bias against any form of change.
The problem takes on worrying proportions in labor intensive companies like retail, banking, healthcare and restaurants. A retailer needs to change it’s outlook towards it’s sphere of influence as science and technology reaches newer frontiers. But labor, the very fabric of these companies, don’t like to change, just like you and I.
New ideas find resistance, unconventional thinkers get sidelined, projects fail or stretch way beyond their budgets and overtime great companies dwindle into shadows of their former glory. All for want of adaptability. It is human nature to attribute failures to tangible issues. Thus, failed endeavors are blamed on the usual suspects … time, resources and money. And yet again, ‘inability to embrace change’, as an enterprise problem escapes scathe-free!
We generally don’t have a problem in acknowledging that there is bias against changes, especially as a broad philosophical point of view. But, in the final analysis of a failed project, ‘Unwillingness to adapt’ cannot make the ‘suspects list’, chiefly because it is not quantifiable. It is also not something one could tell company leadership without sounding silly. It is indeed very difficult to attribute successes and failures directly to adaptability or lack of it. Except, making a general mention of it. Shortage of resources or money or time sound lot more official and legible 🙂
Apple & Blackberry are two recent examples of adaptability and lack of it. Apple ventured into unknown realms under tactful leadership while Blackberry let waves after waves of innovations pass by, but refused to concede it’s original turf. It is self evident and repeatedly proven truth that an organization must embrace changes to survive and thrive. It is also not easily possible to eliminate fear of the unknown from people’s minds. But, just like Apple, with tactful leadership, it might be possible to help people venture into unknown realms, one baby step at a time.
In order to implement a real change and carry the masses along, an organization must start by acknowledging that the bias against change is very real yet illusive. It exists at all levels in the company and it is an expensive problem.
Nextenture Value
Through several implementations of workforce scheduling solutions, we have come to recognize areas where customers prefer traditions over unconventional solution proposals. We are, in most cases, able to scientifically explain the costs and benefits associated with newer ways of optimizing your workforce. Let Nextenture help you implement your workforce management solution in a whole new way.


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