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September 26, 2018

The perception of loss slows down uptake of innovations

BRCK-Innovative device puts Kenya on the global map./COURTESY
BRCK-Innovative device puts Kenya on the global map./COURTESY

Those who have had to move countries understand the feeling of vulnerability that comes with it. You have to deal with a new environment and new levels of uncertainty. It’s usually a mixture of excitement, fear and the wish for things to go well. It can be unnerving. This paints a picture of innovation in the 21st century.

Don’t be fooled by the innovation buzz. In reality, people are truly concerned. For instance, the effect of technology on work is happening at an alarming rate. Now, artificial intelligence, robots and automation threaten the nature of work as we know it. Some jobs (which people have spent time and resources training for) may just disappear. Plus, keeping up with these changes isn’t easy. It leaves people wondering: where is this going?

This concern is one reason innovation is fought. Like moving to a new country, people are not sure what’s going to happen. The feeling of uncertainty that comes with innovation makes people fight change despite the gains. At the point of vulnerability, they’re not sure about what they can keep or would have to let go.

It’s important to note that the perception of loss is different from actual loss. However, the perception alone is strong enough to stop us from embracing the new. That’s why they say “perception is reality”. This is what you believe and the story you tell yourself about something, the facts irrespective. Sadly, once perception is formed, it’s sometimes difficult to change.

But there’s good news. So far, you’ve survived many waves of change and you’re still here. You lived through the landline, now you use smartphones. You functioned in the postal box era, but now use emails with ease. You lived through times when getting a bank account was hectic to having to easily move cash through mobile banking. Through all these changes, you’re still here.

Normally, we underestimate our capacity to adapt to innovation. We’re designed for change and often, the perception of loss is just that – perception. Not actual loss. With each new wave of change, we realise that we’re built to effectively adapt. We evolve and ultimately pull through.

So, what’s in the horizon? We’re not sure. Where’s all this headed? Your guess is as good as mine. But one thing is sure: we can handle it. History proves it. There’s something about our design that’s change friendly. All you have to do is explore your design. Remember, innovation is not the enemy.

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