“People fear what they don’t understand. Make it your job to provide them the courage of insight!” – Futurist Jim Carroll
To be a futurist is to be in a career in which you regularly confront people with the things that might make them uncomfortable. That’s because the future involves change. Since there’s a lot of change going on, and most people hate change, so organizations have a bit of a conundrum to solve!
But consider this – much of the change aversion usually comes about because people are ill-informed as to what’s really going on and its implications. The key then is communication. But if you are going to try to push through their change-resistance barrier, you’d better know what you are up against.
Those who fear the future through a lack of understanding fall into several traps which:
- Inertia is easy: when confronted by change, many people react by …. doing nothing. Battle back with insight!
- It’s easy to avoid tough decisions: The future often involves tough decisions – but every difficult decision can be made easier with clarity.
- An unwillingness to confront the truth: When fearful, people paint a reality that is not quite right. Give them an honest reality check, and use that as a catalyst for action.
- A short-term focus: most people don’t think in time spans longer than three months or a year, and so they can’t see the scope of change. By taking them further into the realm of change, you can ensure they are operating with full insight.
- A lack of appreciation for the extent of disruption that is underway: most industries and business models won’t be the same in 5 or 10 years. That’s a threat – but also an opportunity, ad that needs to be clearly communicated.
- A culture that is risk-averse: people survive through cautious, careful maneuvers. Yet the fast rate of change goes against that mindset. The best way to shift in innovation-focused risk is by outlining the nature of what comes next, in order to spur some thinking as to what to do about it!
- Paralyzed by the fear of failure: people fear the future because they fear they will fail once it arrives. But that need not be the case – by outlining a path forward, you can ease many concerns.
- A refusal or unwillingness to adapt to new ideas: people become stuck – because new ideas are often considered to be ‘dumb ideas.’ Make those ideas into smart ideas through knowledge, and things might turn around.
- A loss of confidence: change can challenge our certainty of success – most people aren’t certain they can compete, adapt and change. Perhaps this is the biggest challenge of all to overcome — but you can only overcome it through insight.
- Fear of the unknown in times of uncertainty: far too many people go into a ‘wait-and-see’ mode when they aren’t sure as to what comes next. Decisions are being deferred at a furious pace. The result is that uncertainty drives the agenda. Shift into certainty through clarity!
Bill Gates once observed “We always overestimate the change that will occur in the next two years and underestimate the change that will occur in the next ten. Don’t let yourself be lulled into inaction.” The key opportunity to eliminate that underestimation is through knowledge, information, and insight!