Another Reason to Resist Change

In a recent post in the Forrester blog, Tim Walters discusses some of the reasons why IT (and knowledge management) folks cling to their top-down one-size-fits-all approach and resist the drive to enable personalization of their offerings. He clearly finds this frustrating since, in his view, personalization is now a matter of “Thurvival”.** Unfortunately, the folks resistant to change have a new compelling excuse to hide behind. Here’s how he paraphrases it:

It’s the economy, stupid. The trouble with a trial and error approach to personalization is that it harbors the possibility (and probably guarantees the occurrence) of error – and error is an expense that, at this juncture, we’d best avoid. For now, let’s stick with what we know works, and we’ll indulge in experimentation when our corporate head is back above the surface of the water.

So now it’s the state of economy that gives them license to cling to the Pantyhose Fallacy. Yet, in Walters’ view, taking the one-size-fits-all approach ensures that your site “will be really relevant and engaging for almost no one. ” That’s quite an accomplishment.

In light of this, it appears that we have two options. We can either sit tight and hope to weather the economic storm without daring to risk anything in the short-term or we can take a radically different approach in which we permit a few short-term risks in order to gain some significant long-term benefits. Tim Walters definitely favors the latter approach:

…now is the time to make selective, small scale investments in personalization tools and skills. Yes, your experiments will produce errors, and the effect will probably not be as favorable as your “sure bets.” But in addition to whatever financial benefits you achieve, you’re building up a knowledge base, intellectual capital, and competitive advantages that will be extremely valuable later.

So what are you going to do? Make a smart short-term investment (at the price of a few managed errors) or hide behind the economy as a reason to resist change?

** According to Tim Walters, “Survival during the downturn + Ability to thrive afterwards = Thurvival.”

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