Suzy Kassem said that "Fear kills more dreams than failure ever will".
It is true that for a large percentage of any traditional industry, fear can shape much of our behaviour. We are brought up as children to be aware of fear. We place a premium on safety. To fear bad people, to fear the unknown, and the unproven. Child tales often talk of evil, of overcoming adversity and then living happily ever after. Fear is a prevalent factor in today's world, as the media likes to inform us that we live in turbulent times so that we keep on ‘tuning in’ to get our daily quota of fear. Fear sells newspapers, increases viewer figures and the world's obsession with fear becomes ever stronger!!
But what use is fear?
Psychology Today explains: Fear is a vital response to physical and emotional danger—if we didn't feel it, we couldn't protect ourselves from legitimate threats. But often we fear situations that are far from life-or-death and thus hang back for no good reason. Traumas or bad experiences can trigger a fear response within us that is hard to quell.
As this definition suggests, the problem with fear is that it is too often triggered when it should not be. The 'fight or flight' trigger is not helpful when we are not in a life-threatening situation. We need to be able to move beyond a feeling of not being in control, to pushing ourselves to learn new things because this is the essence of growth and progress.
Traditional printer and converters are interested in reaching new markets, largely as the previously exciting markets (such as the wide format market), offer little now in the way of new value, profit and growth. Established digital printing technology can now give printers a superb solution for printing into new application areas that match a shift in packaging, retail, document and décor printing.
However, I believe that traditional printers are generally suspicious and fearful of new things, not because trying something new is evil or dangerous, but because it presents change. A fear wall has been constructed in the minds of people who simply would rather not change and push themselves out of their comfort zone.
So how do we overcome the wall of fear?
I would say by taking small and manageable steps towards a goal. By having a desire to evolve and succeed. Without this, a company is exposed to the change around it.
A wall of any sort might make us feel safe, it contains, and stifles innovation.
And for innovation. Fear has little part to play. Because it really is a killer of progress and for progress you need innovation!
Unfortunately, innovation is hard. The idea bit, is basically the fun part, the rest is a slog. Period. Yes, you may have the technology that can enable new business, but you will still have to make it happen and overcome the uncomfortable sensation that you are not an expert in this new field and perhaps your company name is not well known.
But this is a sacrifice worth making. Our view is change, or be changed! The world will not conform to our convenient view of it, so we may as well attempt to define it for ourselves.
Why not change now as opposed to being forced to change when the market shifts anyway? Some would rather be a 'fast follower' but by being a leader you get seen early as a pioneer, and there is incredible power in that you become the 'go to' company in your sector. And this is powerful.
However, the mainstream, and sometimes the leaders in their current field would rather not change. Because they change as a risk to losing their status. So they would much rather do the same thing but perhaps with more efficiency or with notional enhancements. Companies can typically spend a lot of energy on tiny incremental improvements when this is not actually required and the customer does not even notice.
As Einstein said, "doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results is insanity."!
Experts Hate Change
A key reason that companies and their leaders resist change is that it threatens their status as experts. And I think experts hate change.
Change is uncomfortable and it makes us feel uneasy, unsure and unconfident.
This points to a complete lack of understanding of the unique value proposition of digital for new markets. It isn’t there only to perform a replacement role for the key revenue within a business. It is there to be a technology that creates new value for the business. To run alongside the existing 'cash cow'. So you can still keep your existing business, but you should be looking at developing a new one.
Right now a printing company must now make the step up to trying new applications. Because the profit in traditional printing markets is in decline. New applications offer new value and a chance to thrive and grow.
Bridge the Divide
Everyone we talk to agrees with the notion that a key industry problem is the continued divide between print and the creative industry. Pure Digital will bring together these two key elements. We have gain support across the industry for this new initiative, yet some ‘leaders’ in the print industry seem a little frightened of stepping outside their comfort zone. Why not take a measured risk and try something new out?
No one knows exactly how anything will turn out. Many start out not knowing the answers and create a new value they didn’t even expect. There are countless examples of this. The problem may be that there are no guarantees. Of course, change is much easier if the risk has been removed.
Some people are actually interested in change but being driven by fear, not inspiration, they only want to know the information, in order to build a case for not taking on something new, to justify their conservatism. And this is rather flummoxing!
A Digital Culture
I think one of the biggest problems amongst the printing industry generally, is that despite all of the shiny new digital technology, a conservative and cautious analogue culture still dominates.
This culture has been built and reinforced over many generations and a mere 10 years of digital has not changed. It could also be a generational thing. It is possible that this generation needs to move on in order to make way for a more flexible one.
Whatever, my view is that if digital will add new possibilities as opposed to replacing the old, a separate or distinct culture could and even should be created. This may make sense to form it with entirely different people and for that part of the business to have a different focus, mission, and a different set of success criteria placed against it.
Leaders need to judge this future business differently. Because placing the same analogue criteria on a digital business will suffocate it.
By setting up a distinct production unit, it will not disrupt the core business whilst adding the flexibility into production that will be valued by customers.
I guess that we all have our own 'walls of fear' attached to certain things. Personally, I like change, but it's still a big challenge to push yourself to change again and again. But the best option has to be to move with it as opposed to fighting against it. Surely??