Fenestration Innovation
by Ray Garries
October 10th, 2016

Innovation and Its Enemies

“Most suffering comes from the failure to adapt and a resistance to change.”—Debasish Mridha

Innovation requires change, but change is one of the more difficult effects to implement in any company. The fear of job or pay loss, the fear of reduced influence and plain old fear of the unknown has stopped many innovations. This is why all major innovations require a tremendous amount of communications both internally and to your customers. The more we understand this resistance the better we are able to manage and reduce it. This new book will help you and your teams understanding;

Why People Resist New Technology” by Harvard Professor Calestous Juma chronicles the history of opposition to change and its underlying reasons.

Such understanding is critical to the successful introduction and adoption of technological innovations. The 16-year study says fear and perceptions stop innovation and describes the widening gap between the pace of technological advancement and slow rate at which society adjusts.

The study chronicles the extraordinary measures taken by opponents to change and the tenacity of entrepreneurs and technologists who overcame it.

Drawing on nearly 600 years of controversies, the study presents in-depth case studies of opposition to innovation, including; alternating current, refrigeration, recorded music, and, more recently, robotics, artificial intelligence and agricultural biotechnology.

Both coffee and tractors, for instance, were the targets of smear campaigns. Other tactics included demonization, rumors, slander, efforts to restrict use through legislation, and outright bans. Parallels through history are striking. Transgenic crops have been dubbed “Frankenfoods.” In 17th -century Italy, coffee was called “Satan’s Drink” and “Junior Alcohol” in 20th-century southern India. In England, France, and Germany, coffee was said to cause sterility.

Calling refrigerated products “Embalmed Foods” had a chilling effect on consumers.

“Common to all these cases is fear and opponents excluded the benefits of new technology,” says Dr. Juma.

The study says that in many cases objections and social responses to innovation fall into in one or more of four categories: intuition, vested interests, intellectual arguments and psychological factors:

  1. Intuitive responses, often expressed as disgust, reflect patterns of behavior that rely on deeper evolutionary roots of our fears and phobias. New foods, for example, may be seen as a threat to human health;
  2. Vested interests are illustrated with a well-known example of Luddites, early 19th-century British textile workers, popularly portrayed as machine breakers who were simply opposed to change. But the reality was a clash of competing economic worldviews and moral values;
  3. Intellectual challenges to new technologies include philosophical objections to the manipulation of nature or the use of robotics in manufacturing, considered by some as “dehumanizing” and changing how we see ourselves as humans; and
  4. Business models that aim to alter the psychology of health and nutrition choices face strong opposition.

“People are more likely to accept the risks of new technologies if they have been part of the process of deciding on their use,” says Dr. Juma.

In our industry we are seeing many innovations in automation for manufacturing, many of which will be shown at GlassBuild. As these innovations are implemented, their effectiveness is dependent on our ability to communicate their benefits and reduce fear. Hopefully, after reading and understanding the concepts in “… Enemies” you will improve your innovation!

Keep Innovating!

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