Innovators Lead People Through Adaptation

We, creators, innovators, and problem-solvers, love to emphasize the improvement our product or service brings to people's lives. We know how to explain it in detail and want to persuade others to get it by listing its benefits.

However, I've noticed that we almost always underestimate the adaptive effort that people need to make to adopt the solutions we created to their problems.

Innovation brings progress, but it also requires people to let go of things they deeply care about: values, habits, loyalty to other brands, hopes, or relationships with people.

Automated cash registers got us out of the store faster but eliminated the human connection with our favorite cashiers.

Music streaming subscriptions gave us access to an abundance of entertainment but required us to let go of the pride of owning the album.

Better overall health has increased longevity and forced us to adapt to new lifestyles and social structures.

A more sustainable world will force us to abandon many of our consumption habits.

While we mainly focus on the positive outcome of the technical solution that we believe we bring, we forget the adaptive challenge that we may cause to people.

We think of what we build as a technical solution to a technical problem.

But the reality is that innovation adoption requires adaptation. And adaptation is challenging.

If you're bringing something people haven't tried before, consider the change you may need to help them accept.

But here is the thing. People don't resist change. They resist loss.

As Ron Heifetz says:

"You know the adage "People resist change." It is not really true. People are not stupid. People love change when they know it is a good thing. No one gives back a winning lottery ticket. What people resist is not change per se, but loss. When change involves real or potential loss, people hold on to what they have and resist the change."

Innovation requires people to change their behavior. It forces them to modify core elements of their existence.

So, what?

You can't lead people to adopt an innovation if you're not leading them through adaptation.

Product-first vs. Narrative-first
Time Perspective