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When Does Change Happen?

Updated: Nov 9, 2022

Back in 2006, Pip Coburn wrote a book called The Change Function: Why Some Technologies Take Off and Others Crash and Burn. In his book Pip says that “people are only willing to change when the pain of their current situation outweighs the perceived pain of trying something new.”

In essence, change can only happen when the pain of adaption is less than the benefits of something new.

In so many situations we want to change something, but we fail to do it. We become frustrated or we rationalize why we didn’t do something, but what really happens is the pain of change was greater than the perceived benefit and we just stopped.

Let me give you an example. You want a new car, but you really can’t afford it, so you put up with your current situation. Then over the course of the next few weeks you experience the car not starting and you constantly are getting stuck. At the moment when you are finally sick of getting stuck you make the decision to buy that new car. Even though it is going to set you back financially you make that decision because the pain of not getting where you need to go is greater than the pain of writing that check every month.

We see this concept play out every day when it comes to technology. We see really cool tools or new products come out all the time but eventually they fail. But why?

The problem is certain technology demands a change in habits, and that, according to Pip, is the leading cause of failure for countless cool inventions. Too many tech companies believe in "build it and they will come.” Build something better and people will beat a path to your door. But, as Coburn shows, most potential users are afraid of new technologies, and they need a really great reason to change.

So next time you want to change the world, or maybe just one person, remember you have to answer the question “What’s in it for them?” And when you do you will make the benefits received greater than the pain of adaption and you will see the change you were looking for.

Until next time…I’m Marty, make every minute count.


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