Smoke screen one - Change is happening FAST! Isn’t it?
Moores laws illustrates the phenomenon of computer processor speeds doubling every 18 - 24 months. This rate of change creates a ripple affect across many industries as new products get smaller and the frequency of better, faster versions becoming available is shorter. This creates a perception that everything around us is changing SUPER FAST! Most of us feel the ripple affect when we experience things like the Internet, real time Facebook, and a plethora of apps on our smart mobile devices.
We change agents observe a paradigm of unprecedented levels of change along with a whole lot of noise. Thank you social media and some gazillion channels on YouTube and cable TV. There is great change going on. But is it really any more than societies have experienced at other times in history? Could it be that we are just so much more connected that we hear about everything that is going on and it makes us think that more paradigms are shifting now then at other times in history?
Alongside all this noise and change is an opposing force that arguably neutralizes Moore's potential for impact on society. I suggest that this force is even slowing the rate of change within our societies. This momentum killer is the same force that creates inertia for Moores law. The force growing in inertia is us. There are a lot of us that innovate cool things and there are a lot more of us that don't like change. We are highly skeptical stick in the muds that prefer retarded momentum. Just look at our US congress for proof of that. The average age of a Senator is 60 and 55 for a house of representatives. We need a bunch of 30 year olds in there.
The global group of us that resist change the most are our so called “seniors”. This group is growing from 7% of the population in 2000 to a projected 16% by 2050. See the wisdom years. And conversely the 0-19 year old change agent group is actually shrinking from 39% to 27%. This leaves the majority of us in the middle-aged group of 20 – 64 year olds. Because I think we start getting more resistant to change in our mid 50’s the momentum killer group is going to be even larger. In 2010 the 55-64 group was already 100M+. These stodgy old farts are going to be very opinionated by 2050 and a lot larger too.
Another important factor is that the largest concentration of the change agent group is located in developing nations. This is likely to reduce their proportional impact on the momentum of societal change. At least in the short term.
For you bottom liners, all this to say we have to accept that there exists a powerful force pushing against the notion that change is good thereby making change quick. When you ask people to change their behavior, be prepared to wait awhile. I will talk more in depth on this as a strategy in my next post. If you want your product adopted quickly, create something that doesn't require your target audience to change their behavior.
What's next? An historical example of slow change
OK, that is was lot of macro data to take in and 2050 is way out there. So lets look back in time in my next post. We will learn how long it took for one of the most powerful mood creator, paradigm changers in history to gain momentum, and do an autopsy on the unintended consequence that helped the inventor win the race.