Innovating when change is not wanted – The challenge of blending habits old and new

More than often we see a clash between the old and the new. It happens in every sphere: personal, professional and social/collective. Most of the times the new comes with a clear improvement offer and it is just a matter of adjusting transition. But sometimes change is not at all wanted, things are held as fine the way they are. What then? Should change happen anyway? How would you blend the old and new in these cases?


The main issue to me is when it comes to the point of questioning Tradition. Tradition is a very important element of every culture, and when innovation arrives to put an end on a secular tradition it has to be very well questioned.

The example above, with two fishermen is a classic one. Being a traditional fisherman is not something you can possibly learn in any school. The knowledge of each process is passed on while doing it and the young ones will learn and carry it on. These men go on to maintain their families with their work and their tradition expands within their home. Most of the times their wives and daughters will take on a few also traditional habits and that family will be a ‘pumping heart’ of MEANING to sometimes the extent of a whole nation.

But innovation comes knocking on the door and wants to change things around all the time. “better! better! better!” It says, but the obvious first question is, and should always be: “do we need it?” with the second being: “do we want it?”

It is true that we can easily fall into a debate around capitalism and consumerism when talking about the needs of innovation, so I believe it’s best to skip that for now. The important point being when innovation IS needed for the right reasons, what then?

The easiest way out of this is by having a successful CASE STUDY to show to non-believers, or those resistant to change. You can show what are the key points on the specific situation (more income, less expenses, better use of resources, etc..) and point out how these factors will be improved within the case.

The VERY TRICKY part of things is when you fall into the abyss of the simple “I like this, I don’t like that”.


When you fall into the realm of very personal taste, then things might get very difficult or even halted for good.

If this happens, there is absolutely no point on going against the resistance, the best you can do is join them in their view and understand (at best) the reasons behind the decisions and opinions.

INNOVATION WILL DIVIDE sometimes what was before a clear unified opinion of a group. Sometimes there will be the need for opening new spaces to “shelter” what is being put aside with the coming of the new. Tradition, if needed to move aside, might move into museums, festivals, tourism in general, and become honoured and preserved. Preserving certain aspects of the old in a “side-chain” is a good option for innovation to take place.

Innovation should also be more inclusive than exclusive. Meaning that if you exclude the old and replace it completely you will most definitely face harsh resistance. So if you are changing a system in your company, for example, and people are resisting to the learning process, you must bring them close to you and understand: what would motivate them into giving that extra effort open-heartedly? You must let people feel included in the innovation process to the maximum level, and let each one show their own ways of catching up to the change.

This is a long debate for a short blog post. However, after a few glimpses of alternatives and a spark of thought into the matter, I believe the most important message in change will always be:

bob_marley_121“Don’t gain the world and lose your soul” (Marley, Bob)

Alex Gonçalves

Born some time ago, close to the sea and a huge statue of Christ upon a mountain, in explainable ways yours truly has built a love for the understanding of the world around us. This constant 'groove' of curiosity has branched in a love for all things business and marketing related, touching into the arts and a lot of what happens in between.