Grant McCracken, posting for the HBR Blog Network, applied Elizabeth Kubler-Ross’ model of the five stages of grief to adoption of new technology in the post “The Five Stages of Disruption Denial.” McCracken’s reconsideration of change in the context of technological innovation is a provocative conceptual framework.
He takes Twitter as his case in point, and runs his reactions to it a reworking of Kubler-Ross’ five stages: Confusion, Repudiation, Shaming, Acceptance and Forgetting. By forgetting, McCracken means how we try to cover our early confusion and repudiation of a new technology and rewrite our personal history as before-the-curve early adopters.
Denying our early confusion does no one any favors:
“We have to accept that change is the new structural reality of our lives and we have to begin a new set of problem solving routines that can put things right (or righter).
When you first lay eyes on something like Twitter, don’t react emotionally, don’t reject it out of hand. And when you go back to correct those first impressions, don’t conceal the evidence so that it looks like you (we!) were right all along.
Instead, do a careful, thoughtful analysis, for and against the innovation. Write it down, and consult it every time “Twitter” comes up and enter a new, corrected assessment of where the innovation is and where it might end up. Keep doing this until, as in the Twitter case, we find ourselves 6 years down the road and can look back to see what we got right and what we got wrong.”
The digital world is moving so quickly that predicting change or figuring out what the next big thing is going to be is absolutely impossible. Adopting McCracken’s assessment strategy will help keep it all in perspective.
Laura Abrahamsen, May 02, 2013