The Evolutionary Bias that Resists Change.

By: William Buist on : 4th October 2015: Business Model, Business articles, Fallacies: No Comments

Stepping into the unknown is emotional, our blood floods with adrenaline and other hormones to give us an evolutionary edge for a world of danger unlike the one that surrounds us today. That can lead us down false paths.

The power of the status quo bias, draws us to the comfort of what we know. It means we’re prone to make change only late and by necessity. Hurried and ill considered tactics tend to win over considered strategy. Why does this happen? Emotionally any change from the reference context of “what we have now” is seen as loss. Particularly when the new world has yet to be built, where what will be gained is, as yet, just a mental construct, rather than something that can be touched and seen. So the need for change tends to be considered from an emotional state of fear, subtly and subconsciously making us ‘edgy’ and opening up the possibility of another evolutionary bias, “first solution”, to play out its falsehoods. In our heightened, fearful, state we ‘latch on’ to something, anything, that might work. When we were chased by lions finding a solution that might work quickly meant survival.

In business we’re faced with ‘new’ all the time. New customers, new products, new services, new markets. Growth requires change and yet we tend to step into it with trepidation. We often fight demons in our imagination yet then wonder why we didn’t make the change years sooner and with less fuss. We latch onto the first solution and rush to implement it, to assuage the feelings powered by our fear. The real winners in today’s world where lions no longer roam the street, play a more mature game.

When we know how adrenaline puts us on edge, then we can acknowledge the feelings that we have. Instead of being a driver for quick action, the knowledge that the sensation of fear is ‘how I should feel now’ gives the strength to step back and keep true to the strategy. When we know that our first choice may not be our best choice we don’t stop seeking answers as we find the first one. We test it, but not indefinitely. When we evaluate the choice rationally, logically, and without emotion even as we feel fear in our veins, then we tend to avoid the costly mistakes that come from fear and excessive speed. Strategic pace is the choice of (emotionally) mature businesses that consistently deliver.

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