Embrace the C-word

Faster, better, smarter…. Oh dear, that sounds like change.

Revolutionary, cutting edge, ground-breaking… OMG! That sounds like big change.

It’s amazing the effect change, particularly when it relates to technology, can have on those who pitch their tent in the “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” camp. The ‘C-word’ strikes fear into their very soul, even if it could make their life easier, more efficient, more flexible or more enjoyable.

The aversion to change is strong in some people. Still, it’s not a new thing – people have been avoiding the C-word for ages:

Back in 1876, after a successful demonstration, critics decried the Telephone as unnecessary. Sir William Preece, Chief Engineer of the British Post Office, declared “we have plenty of messenger boys.” (He obviously had a few hang-ups).

In 1880, Henry Morton, President of the Stevens Institute of Technology, called the Light Bulb a “conspicuous failure”. (Another unenlightened gentleman).

In 1899, Literary Digest suggested the Automobile “is at present a luxury for the wealthy; and although its price will probably fall in the future, it will never, of course, come into as common use as the bicycle.” (Clearly, they were peddling absolute garbage).

In 1903, when Orville and Wilbur Wright made the first successful flight, their amazing feat was met with very little fanfare. Military experts were particularly unimpressed: Frenchman, Ferdinand Foch described the Aeroplane as a toy and of “no military use.”(He must have thought two Wrights made a wrong).

1n 1925, the Television was viewed as a curiosity that would never be a commercial success. It was even shunned by inventors who, themselves, had been on the receiving end of criticism and doubt. One of these was Lee DeForest, a radio pioneer and inventor of the vacuum tube, who said Television was an “impossibility” and “a development of which we need waste little time dreaming.” (He must have lived in a vacuum).

In the 1970s, after the accidental invention of a low-tack adhesive by chemist, Spencer Silver, it took years for 3M to realise the potential of the Post-It note. They were convinced people would continue to use scraps paper to jot down notes. (Talk about stuck in the past).

In 1977, Ken Olsen, founder of Digital Equipment Corporation (DEC) wondered why people would want a PC in their home. (He obviously had a chip on his shoulder). But it kind of set the technology tone for those who didn’t like the C-word.

Even as recently as 2010, experts believed the iPad would be a huge commercial disappointment, stating the product didn’t have a viable market. US research giants, Simpson Carter, announced “there isn’t a compelling incentive to get mainstream consumers to buy it.” (Wow! How out of touch were they?)

So, for all of you who resist the C-word, perhaps it’s time to … change the way you think – be open to new technology, welcome in the better, and even dip your toe in the revolutionary. Yes, it’s time to embrace the C-word – it’s not as scary as you think, and it could make a big difference to the way you work (and play).