Change is hard.

In fact, it's one of the main causes of lost productivity, inefficiencies, and even financial issues at startups and larger companies. Not to get too scientific about it, but when change happens, we sometimes slip back into "the old way" because it's easier. We don't like to adapt to change because it's safer, easier, and more comfortable to stick with what has worked in the past. As humans, we like the easy way, not the hard way.

And yet, the rate at which you embrace change will determine your ultimate success. Stick-in-the-mud, feet planted on the ground--that's a recipe for total disaster in business.

In tech circles, change happens much faster than in other segments. I've met with companies of all sizes over the years and interviewed countless founders, and there's a "late adopter" mentality that says: "Let's wait and see if a collaborative app like Slack is really viable first; let's hold off on embracing social media until we know more about the analytics involved; let's move slowly with app development until the costs to hire a programmer come down." This mindset means you wake up one morning and realize that everyone is using Slack, social media is the new marketing, and not having an app is a sign that you have fallen way behind in terms of tech trends.

What works much better? When it comes to technology, it's not always good to be an early adopter. Instead, it's better to be a fast changer. Slack is a good example of this. I met with one company recently where half the people in a meeting had never heard of the collaborative app or even the concept behind it. Keep in mind that Slack is not the only option by far for real-time communication. It's a good example of a business tool that makes perfect sense for most companies but that some business folks have not embraced only because it's new and different, not because it lacks viability.

That's the real problem. If it's viable, adopt and adapt.

Here's the challenge. To adopt tech trends, you have to become really good at measuring viability. For another example, I've also talked to companies that have never placed a Facebook ad. They don't know anything about how it works. They (wrongly) assume you have to talk to a salesperson or learn a complex advertising platform, that you have to design an ad on your own, or that there is some programming involved. Those are all terrible assumptions. In truth, the process of placing an ad is incredibly easy and efficient. You can zero in on a specific demographic. You can design a basic banner ad in seconds. It's new and unknown, perhaps. Yet, it's not underdeveloped, untested, impractical, confusing, or implausible. In fact, it's something every startup needs to at least try, especially if you have a highly specific market segment.

We tend to shy away from innovation because we assume the plane won't fly, the search engine won't return adequate results, the voice-activated bot won't let us order the right product. Throw out those assumptions. Analyze a new trend for the value first; don't be confused by whether it is new and untested. Be quick to adopt and quick to abandon the trend when you see it doesn't offer any benefits or an advantage for your company. Terrible products and services reveal themselves quickly. Adopting early should also mean abandoning early. Yet, if the tech trend is worth an investment, after doing your analysis and comparisons, be ready to dive right in. Embrace it fully.

What's holding you back? It could be fear of change. It could be your own confusion over the value (which means you have to analyze it better). It could be the impact the change will have on your employees and process, even if the change is for the better.

A fast changer is someone who makes decisions based on the data available and the known value. Adopt, adapt--and be ready to see how the change brings success.

Published on: Jan 31, 2017