Wednesday, April 17, 2013

What to do...  

When you don't "get" the Latest Thing. Let's just hypothetically say this references an elderly but still hip blogger/writer and say, Facebook, to pick a subject entirely at random. Even as his less cyber-savvy friends (and even the occasional wife) have gotten on board, he still treats it with disdain.

Well, folks, he's not the only one coping (or not coping) with this dilemma.
The fact of the matter is our professional lives now churn with change. Markets change. Technology changes. Consumers change. Channels change. Competitors change. This is an era of disruption. Not disruption as the occasional event, but disruption as the constant, chronic condition of our professional lives. You would hope that we were getting better at understanding and managing change. And sometimes we are. Too often however, our response is to ignore and forget change, to fake our way through it, to pretend an engagement and a mastery we do not have. And that's bad. That means we are not getting better at change, but steadily worse. We are denying disruption, instead of adapting to it.
We seem to adopt and adapt to something like Twitter by stages, a little like Kubler-Ross' five stages of grief. Except in this case, it's a passage from confusion to congratulation. Self-congratulation.
Stage 1. Confusion. We don't quite get it. We sign up for the new app. We give it a whirl. Not really getting it. By this time, gurus are reassuring us that Twitter is the greatest thing ever. But that doesn't help. We're still not getting it. And so we turn to Stage 2.
Stage 2: Repudiation. It turns out there are lots of people who don't get the new technology and now social life is a little like a competition to show that we're not "falling for it." At this point, there can more social capital in saying that we don't like the tech than that we do.
Stage 2 is marked by snappy one-liners. With the practiced ease of stand-up comedian, we can now be heard saying stuff like, "Twitter. What could I possibly say in 140 characters?" Or, "FourSquare? Why would I want to be mayor of my living room."
Stage 3. Shaming. This is when we are so persuaded that we're right and the new innovation is wrong that we are prepared to make fun of the credulous among us. I was on the receiving end after I gave a presentation on new media to a large advertising firm. When I finished, three planners took turns patting me on the head and telling me, "This Twitter thing. It's just a fad. Give it a couple of months and it will go away." We heard a lot of this sort of thing about Pinterest in the early days. Now it's valued at $2.5 billion.
Stage 4. Acceptance. By this time, the innovation is taking off. The middle adopters are signing on. It's clear now even to us that Twitter is here to stay. Confronted by accomplished, irrefutable fact, we cave in and sign on.
And that brings us to Stage 5.
Stage 5. Forgetting. This is where we destroy the evidence. Now we are inclined to act as if we always understood and approved of a world installed with new innovation. [Please read the rest for suggested therapy]
I'm sure this gentleman has used the described procedure before, but has altered his memory suitably to allow him to maintain his out-sized ego. The author does have some concrete steps that might help if you finish the short article. Maybe the fellow in the example should try them.

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