Why Complaining About Change Just Won’t Cut It

Jane Adshead-Grant
“Everyone’s on their phone these days. Whatever happened to real conversations?”
“Really, millennials have to rely on an app to find a date now?”
“What have the Kardashians done to deserve anything?”
“Snapchat? It’s so egotistical to think anyone would care so much about your life.”

You may have heard at least one person in your circle making comments like the ones above. In fact, it might even be yourself who’s saying this.

Let me begin by saying, I have no intention on debating about the questions and comments above. Everyone has the right to their own opinion. However, I do have the absolute intention to discuss the mentality behind complaining about change — and why it’s proven to be nothing but detrimental.

Change is uncomfortable. It puts us out of our regular habits and forces us to think and act differently. But what people and organizations seldom acknowledge is that change doesn’t happen overnight; it approaches you slowly, giving you plenty of time to adapt to it.

Take Netflix, for example. Many cite Netflix as the online streaming service that took the industry by storm, leaving DVD rental companies like Blockbuster completely in the dust. What many forget, however, is that it wasn’t until 14 years into the business that Netflix began to push online streaming as their main service. To put it in other words, Blockbuster had 14 years to recognize the change in consumer behaviour and dominate market share with its own streaming service, before Netflix started to take over. In fact in 2000, Netflix tried to sell its business to Blockbuster for a measly $50 million. That’s nothing, compared to the $77 billion it’s worth now. The mentality of the then-CEO is very clear — he was too smug about Blockbuster’s position as the market leader. Had he at least put some resources into validating the shift from in-person DVD rental to online streaming, we’d be ‘Blockbuster n Chill’-ing instead, today.

As a more recent example, take Toys R Us. Toys R Us has been in debt since more than a decade ago, making it just a matter of time before they had to file for bankruptcy. According to The New Yorker,

“Media reports this week blamed the failure of Toys R Us, in part, on the rise of online shopping — and, implicitly, Amazon, which dominates the online space. But by the time Walmart moved past Toys R Us, in the late nineties, Amazon was only four years old, and was just beginning to expand beyond books.”

Which suggests Toys R Us, like Blockbuster, had ample time to discover change in consumer preferences and reorganize their financial structure. So the real question should be — What was Toys R Us doing when they were witnessing this change in purchase behaviour in the past decade? Why were they financing more brick-and-mortars like Babies R Us and Kids R Us, instead of financing their online store?

I’m using business examples to illustrate how devastating denying change can be to even the most successful, billion-dollar corporations. But what makes up a corporation are just regular people like us. If we remain smug, we’re bound to fail. If we remain ignorant and refuse to acknowledge change, we will lose. So instead of complaining about how untalented the Kardashian’s are, accept that 103.3 million people in this world now wants Kim Kardashian’s body shape, hair color, demeanour, and everything she uses. Instead of complaining about how cell phones are interrupting real conversations, ask yourself what it is about mobile phones that makes it so irresistible.

You don’t have to always understand the type of change that’s occurring — but you should always accept that it’s happening and be curious about why it’s happening. A great example of a company that adopted this mentality is Adidas. Adidas has seen a year-to-date growth of 6.6 percent, surpassing Nike Jordans in market share. This, according to NPD sports industry analyst, Matt Powell, is an unprecedented growth in the sneaker industry. The major cause? Adidas jumped on the athleisure trend, by endorsing Kanye West’s Yeezy’s and pushing Stan Smiths, while Nike’s Jordans remained in the athletic sneakers category.

Like it or not, the world is changing at a faster pace than ever, and it won’t wait for you to catch up.

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