Johan Pretorius shares his thoughts on Embracing Change Naturally.
Most people in business and IT are now familiar with prescriptive analytics and the accompanying dashboards that help them make business-critical decisions. But have you ever thought about how animals respond to environmental factors without such technologies? In a dry season, they migrate to greener pastures without hesitation or, hours before a Tsunami hits, they are already running for higher ground. I’d attribute this to 2 innate strengths: keen situational awareness and the readiness to embrace change.
Humans, on the other hand, are often quite the opposite. For over ten years, I worked for one of the biggest companies in South Africa. During my time in the corporate world, I witnessed numerous system changes and a complete rebranding of the company after it was taken over by an international group. In every case, most of my colleagues went through the usual seven emotional stages: denial, anger, confusion, depression, crisis, acceptance and, finally, new confidence.
Even after my recent return to consulting, I continue to see this pattern when proposing or implementing a new solution. If it entails any difference to their daily routine, the way they present reports, or in any other way intrudes into their comfort zones, clients and their employees tend to push back, resisting change.
It’s understandable. Our natural instinct is to follow the path of least resistance or apply the principle of least effort. In fact, innovation is born from people developing easier paths and less laborious processes. Yet, once we’ve implemented a better solution, we stick to it too rigidly, take ownership and perhaps even get a bit defensive of any criticism against it.
But in life and business, change is the only constant and yesterday’s solutions become ineffective against today’s new, more complex problems. We need to let go of legacy systems and processes, seeing them as stepping stones rather than campsites. Nature could teach us a thing or two about progress.
In fact, it does. Many of our latest innovations come from a recent science that studies our natural world to understand its hidden, elegant technologies. It’s called biomimicry and I’ll quote its definition from Wikipedia: “… the imitation of the models, systems, and elements of nature for the purpose of solving complex human problems”. I’ve watched many videos from its pioneer, Janine Benyus, and I’m astonished by how much we can learn from nature if we just take a closer look.
I’m no expert in biomimicry but, having grown up on a farm and visited our national parks, I’ve observed firsthand that the key to survival among animals is their ability to embrace change. For example, we’re experiencing increasingly extreme weather conditions but, through it all, nature seems to find ways to survive. It’s as if there are invisible dashboards only it can see, warning it of what’s to come and providing solutions on how to endure.
New technologies, like IoT and AI, give humans situational awareness approaching that with which animals are naturally blessed, as well as solutions to survive in business. Ironically, they resist the very thing they demand. To move forward, it’s essential we first acknowledge the necessity of embracing change, especially when adopting new solutions that will give our business a superior competitive advantage. This also means preparing for that vital transitioning phase that, when done right, ensures a successful implementation and the greatest return on your investment.
Not sure how to proceed? Ask Onpro Consulting for assistance. We’re masters at helping our clients to leverage data science and AI technologies for massive business benefits.