The famous 16th century Italian diplomat Niccolo Machiavelli wrote:
“He who innovates will have for his enemies all those who are well-off under the existing order of things”
But ask anyone who’s ever tried to bring about change: Machiavelli’s theory only explains part of the problem: it doesn’t account for the vast majority of us who aren’t in cushy, well-paid gigs but who resist change nonetheless.
See, many of us resist change because they fear it… or rather, they fear they may be too old, too slow or just too rigid to meet the demands of The New Way; for a great many change looks like a threat to their job or (even) their career.
But there’s an even larger group, one that makes up the vast bulk of the resistance; passionate people who were promised a real chance to make a difference but were instead sold an endless parade of empty restructures and rebrandings.
After a few years of ‘organisational cosmetics’ (disguised as innovation) all but the most determined idealists reluctantly come to believe that genuine progress (better outcomes, reduced effort, smarter processes, increased productivity, greater collaboration, job satisfaction etc.) is simply unattainable.
Over time they can become frustrated, jaded, suspicious – even cynical; likely to dismiss all change (even the genuine article, should it come along) as just another empty promise.
Address the fears of those who fear… and earn the trust of those who distrust and you’ll find almost all the ‘innovator’s enemies’ are actually allies – who probably outnumber Machiavelli’s ‘well-off’ by a thousand to one.
With friends like that… who fears enemies?