Why Old Dogs Can’t Learn New Tricks

I attended a great presentation from Faris Yakob at Monday’s meeting of the MIMA. He gave the audience two great takeaways: Three views of innovation and a clear framework for why innovation can be so difficult to incorporate.

Yakob gave us three views of how innovations are viewed during a person’s life. Inventions that are in place when we are born are viewed as normal. They’ve always been there. Innovations that occur between the time we are born and the time we turn 30 are “…incredibly exciting and innovative and will change life as we know it.” The inventions that come to be after we turn 30 are “against the natural order of things and the beginning of the end of civilization.” No wonder many of us have trouble adopting to change, we’re past the adaptive zone!

Our interactions also affect our ability to use and understand innovations. Take video for example. Those of us who are a little older know video as television. We may do a little time shifting, but by and large we watch what’s on. It’s a single broadcast to many people. Contrast that with the way younger people consume video. They post, receive, alter, and repeat the process. It is a much more interactive approach. There are many more alternatives and much more individual input. The model is now one of many messages reaching many people through many channels.

How ready are you for these changes? If you are in the younger set, can you find ways to connect new approaches to traditional channels? If you are older, can you overcome the calcification that comes with age. It’s time to embrace change and realize that civilization is more than likely continue. All of us must understand the promise that innovations can deliver and how those innovations enhance the foundations already in place.

It’s our challenge as leaders to stay connected with both sides of the equation.


1 Response to “Why Old Dogs Can’t Learn New Tricks”

  1. 1 David M. Tompos
    March 15, 2010 at 10:49 am


    Change… great topic for today as we watch our society changing around the globe. Many years ago, I attended a seminar that also discussed change. How we handle change can be likened to a rider on a horse. You can try to dig your heels into the ground to keep the horse from running; or, you can “ride the change” as it is happening. Which action (or re-action to change) will leave you with more energy?

    Adapting to change may well be a key measure for executive success. Thanks for the thoughts!

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