I just threw away all of the telephone books.
For years, they’ve been delivered to my doorstep, from a few different companies. For years, I’ve unwrapped them and placed them on a high shelf. For years, I’ve never touched them. Why, oh why, have I bothered to waste time and space for all those years?
Because losses loom larger than gains.
I first saw that phrase in Chris O’Leary’s brilliant, one-page distillation of the the forces behind successful innovation. Chris points out that “people find the threat of loss to be far more motivating than the promise of gain.” And I see this every day as I work with teams that are trying to get better at doing what they spend their days doing, delivering business value to their customers through software.
“Change? Sure, that sounds like a good idea. There are lots of things wrong here. Wait…I need to do stop doing that? But I’ve always done that. Why? It’s the right way. Results? Well, yeah, when we do that, it doesn’t always work, but that’s just because Dave over there isn’t thinking things through when he…”
Change is what we want other people to do. But the rule is this: if you want to engender change in a group dynamic, go first. Be the change you want to see in the world. Charity starts at home—wait, that’s a different maxim. But you get the idea.
So I no longer have telephone books at hone. What’s next? The land-line telephone’s already gone; maybe I drop the VoIP service I got to save my long-time phone number? Stay tuned and see.