“Pretending that a problem doesn’t exist is not a solution to the problem!” – Futurist Jim Carroll
Denial is the easy way out – there is no problem that we will solve by pretending that it doesn’t exist!
People love to avoid the obvious, work hard to evade the big issues, and do everything they can to hide from reality. We are, after all, skillful manipulators of the truth, avoiders of the reality of problems. We avoid talking about the problems we face, while all around us disruption and change unfold around us at a furious pace. One day, we woke up, and realize that we were just like Blockbuster, Blackberry, Kodak, and Sears.
We avoid the reality that our business models are changing and that we are not changing with them; that our skills are out of date when skills all around are accelerating; that new competitors are emerging that have a better product than we do; that our strategies of yesteryear won’t cut it in the fast-moving reality of today – and sure as heck won’t survive an even faster tomorrow.
Denial is the defense mechanism we use when we refuse to recognize or acknowledge facts. Freud has said that there are three types of denial – simple denial, simple denial, minimization, and projection. In the first case, we simply refuse to acknowledge something we don’t like. In the second case, we downplay the significance of that thing we don’t like. In the third case, not only do we downplay and minimize that thing – but we blame someone else for the problem.
How often do you encounter a leadership team or co-worker who plays the blame game? How often do you see someone who denies a simple, obvious truth? How often do you see someone minimize the impact of a sudden new competitor? People won’t fix a problem if they refuse to acknowledge it! They won’t get involved in discussing the steps that will provide them a road for rebuilding if they pretend the need for such a road just isn’t there. They won’t want to tackle the big issues if they pretend they don’t exist.
What should you do? Confront the problem up front! After all, with rapid business model change, competitive disruption, fast-paced technological developments, rapid and new branding challenges, customer churn, social networks, and all kinds of other challenges – trends will win. Denial won’t. Right now, you need to make sure that you have an organization that is open to new ideas and is thinking about innovative ways of turning challenges into opportunities.
Rather than hiding from them!