Why Change is Hard

by Stephen Shapiro

Why Change is HardI am someone who loves change. In fact I sometimes change things simply for change sake.

But I recently learned a powerful lesson on why change is difficult, even for someone like me who loves to stir things up.

I bought a MacBook Pro a few weeks ago. Friends have been prodding me to buy Apple after a number of technical issues with my Windows-based machine.

I have to admit, I really liked my PC. But for a variety of reasons, it was time for a change.

I was excited. As I said, I love change.

But what I discovered quickly was that I did not love my Mac.

To be clear, there is nothing inherently wrong with my Mac. It is just different than Windows. I am so used to my old PC that I could do things so quickly with hotkeys. From my perspective, nearly everything was intuitive on the PC while the Mac just doesn’t make sense to me.

My productivity diminished significantly since the switch. Last week I seriously considered loading Windows on my Mac via bootcamp. This would turn my Mac hardware into a PC. I was finding my new operating system and software too difficult to learn.

And then it dawned on me. I was resisting change, the way most people do.

It is not that Windows is better. It’s just different. The more I use my Mac, the more I get used to it. I am assured by most people that Mac is indeed a better solution.

And this is what happens inside of organizations. We resist change not because the old way is better. We resist change because the effort it takes to do things differently is difficult. It takes time. It takes patience. It takes breaking old habits and learning new ones.

The “culture” of an organization is much like the operating system of a computer. Maybe you have a PC culture today but want a Mac culture. There are things that everyone will need to learn. And everyone will have to believe the the switch is valuable enough to justify the effort.

If they don’t see the reason for the change, they will do what I did…revert to old habits and find ways of circumventing the system. Much like my running Windows on a Mac.

In the end I did not install Windows on my machine. I decided to really dive in and learn the new operating system. I am convinced that in the long run, this will be a better solution.

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Stephen ShapiroStephen Shapiro is the author of three books, a popular innovation speaker, and is the Chief Innovation Evangelist for Innocentive, the leader in Open Innovation.

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  1. As a semi-fluent speaker of three Operating Systems (OSX, Linux & Windows), I can identify with this analogy perfectly. The whole reason no one wants to change is because it requires a little effort!

    What if the old way isn’t as good as it used to be? What if the new way is more efficient and costs less? Wouldn’t you want to change the system?

    Great article, Stephen!!

  2. Jimmy the Greek,

    Thanks for the kind words.

    You hit on something important…

    The old way is rarely as good as it used to be. What made someone successful 10 years ago would be an outdated mode today. But companies operate under the belief that what has working in the past will continue to work in the future. Clearly this is faulty logic.

    Thanks!

  3. I guess it’s true that most people don’t change unless staying the same is more painful than the change itself. I like to reframe change as more of an exploration and a transformation. Another saying resonates–the whole no pain no gain aspect to life becomes so evident. I also like the notion of being comfortable with uncomfortable. There are so many ways to reposition change in your mind. Thanks for the post.

    ~Nikos
    http://www.niovate.com

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