Creator of the telephone, Alexander Graham Bell, had his invention dismissed as nothing more than a useless toy by the world’s leading communication company at the time, and George Lucas’s original Star Wars script was rejected by all the major Hollywood studios except one. This brings us to another innovation myth – that people like new ideas.
From the examples above, we can see that people aren’t so receptive to new ideas, even if the ideas are brilliant. People tend to reject new things because they are inherently afraid of change.
Studies show that the most stressful things you can experience in life are: marriage, moving house, divorce, losing a job and losing someone you love. The common thread running through these events is that they all involve big changes. Conversely, if asked to think about something relaxing, you’ll probably picture yourself engaging in an activity devoid of change or surprise, like spending time on the beach with some friends.
The problem with appraising new ideas is that they conflict with our desire to enjoy these relaxing, familiar activities, and instead require that we place faith in the unknown, which is exactly what those other highly stressful life events require.
So to overcome this fear of change, innovators need to first offer their new idea as a taste test.
Samples, giveaways and demonstrations all lower risks and thereby reduce the fear of change, which makes them effective strategies for easing people into a new idea. For example, tea bags were first given away as free samples to ease people into the new concept of brewing tea without buying a big tin. The easier it is to sample, the quicker the innovation will catch on. That’s why clothing stores allow you to try on clothes before purchasing and car companies allow test drives.
Start small and you’ll find that your big ideas will be easier to digest.