Don’t feel guilty about not embracing an innovation

The word ‘innovation’ has its etymological roots in the Latin ‘novus’ (Ancient Sankrit ‘navam’), which, depending upon the context, can mean ‘new’ or ‘unusual’ or ‘strange’. Yesterday, I chanced upon a paper on the ‘Psychology of Innovation Resistance’, by Emory University marketing professor JN Sheth, which reminded me that ‘new’ and ‘unusual’ may not necessarily be good or exciting.

Although observations such as Prof Sheth’s can sometimes feel already intuitively understood, seeing them put well into words can still be quite edifying.

Prof Sheth says:  ‘the vast majority of people who have no a priori desire to change may be more typical and even more rational than a small minority of individuals who seek change for its own sake rather than, or in addition to, the intrinsic value of the innovation… it is about time we paid respect to individuals who resist change…’

Prof Sheth defines no-resistance innovations as those which ‘neither contain any risks nor attempt to change existing habits.’  While he sees fads and fashions as the most conspicuous examples of no-resistance innovations, Prof Sheth notes that technological innovations seen as low risk rarely encounter any resistance.

Rather than rely on the above equivalent of a sound bite, you can view the full text of the 1981 paper, although the scan is a little dodgy.


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