Avoidance of Changes

For decades we have tried to get people and organizations to change their behavior voluntarily to limit the impact of our lifestyle on the planet. That didn’t work, as people don’t want to change when they are doing fine. Here are some examples.
  • Neighbors (who have two fossil fuel cars) are very upset because an EV charger was put on the public sidewalk in front of their house. That impacts their view in a negative way. They don’t want an EV charger in front of their house, and even did remove a parking sign. It was okay for them when the charger stood in front of someone else’s house. This is a clear example of the NIMBY attitude, combined with a lack of perspective on the future where fossil cars are being replaced with electric vehicles.
  • A spiritual organization who promotes being a vegetarian, don’t want to go vegan.
  • A manager from a multinational organizes a snack car for his son’s birthday. Thus, he promotes and validates unhealthy processed food by youth.
  • Most people care and have noticed the 2021 IPCC report, but are not doing anything differently. Feels out of their reach, what can I do? I am only one person or we are just a small organization.
No-Change is intentional: the narrative, the story in society is that those in power don’t want you to change. They just want you to conform to their orders. So, they prevent change.
That is why they don’t address in education who you are and what you want and how to change. If they found change important then it would be a major topic at school.
They want you to behave like everyone else and just obey and be ‘normal’ (+ within their norm). If you behave differently, you will be summoned to return to the cage.
Naomi Osaka, four-time Grand Slam champion, said she wouldn't take part in required press conferences due to concerns over her mental health, officials responded by fining her $15,000 and threatening to expel her from the tournament. Osaka, 23, then pulled out of the French Open entirely, revealing in a statement that her decision not to talk to reporters was due to struggles she has experienced in recent years: "The truth is that I have suffered long bouts of depression since the US Open in 2018 and I have had a really hard time coping with that." The response that she got was “get back in the box”.
This ‘changewashing’ is going on for years. Everyone points to something or someone who needs to change. It is not only individuals who avoid change, leaders mostly deny having problems themselves so they say that they don’t need to change, but their employees need to change. Politicians postpone tricky topics into the future, usually outside of the term for which they were elected. The EU Green Deal has many goals for 2050. By that date almost all of them will be retired, so they are not accountable. Changewashing is like Greenwashing and Sportswashing. Vested interests want things to stay the way they are.
Yes, of course leaders also need to change themselves. Here is part of an interview with Paul Polman, who was the CEO of Unilever.
Makeover: It's become a cliché to say that business as usual isn't going to solve the many social and environmental challenges we face. But business is pretty much “as usual” and has been throughout the entire sustainability push of the past 20 or 30 years. How do we change that dynamic? How do we transform the business models? The economic systems? Isn't that what's needed here? Does net positive help get us there?
Polman: Absolutely. In order to get systems transformation or organizational transformation, you need leadership transformation. And the book spends a quite a lot of time on your own journey. Do you care how to get your own purpose before you build that into your business? You cannot be a sustainable business if you're not sustainable yourself. You cannot be purpose for business if you're not purposeful yourself.
The reason that we don't see the progress that we need, unfortunately, is that many leaders don't have the courage to set the targets of what is needed. This book, I think, will give you enough ideas. And then it gets to the tougher calls that I think many people have been avoiding. Has your trade association said something different than yourself? How do you deal with issues of tax, or corruption or money in politics, or human rights standards in your value chain? Frankly, areas that business too long has been silent about.
Most people don’t want to change as that requires effort because their prime state is inertia, laziness. Like preferring to sit on the couch instead of exercise, or using scooters or electric bikes instead of push bikes.
People are used to no-change and like it.
The No-Change story prevents behavior change that is critical for dealing with global challenges. Still in addition to game-changing solutions, we also need behavior change, like eating less meat, having no cars, no cheap business/holiday travels, less consumption, less children.
We need more effort in stark contrast to the laziness and instant gratification that is being promoted via advertising.
Mainly by penalizing certain behavior (smoking inside public buildings is forbidden, wearing a mask for Corona) the behavior is changed. But only as long as there is enforcement. That is not the required voluntary behavior change.
When dealing with behavior change there is also the huge influence of biases. Here are some examples related to the avoidance of change.

Moving train bias

If all other trains are moving and yours is standing still, then it looks like yours is moving as well.
So, you stay put and do nothing, and ultimately you get disrupted. And you will feel very surprised, as you thought that you were moving as well. This is especially true when we look at the use of new technologies.

Ostrich Bias

Putting your head in the sand enables you not to see that big truck (big challenges) that is approaching you at high speed, and you don’t know how to deal with. In this way the challenge seems to vanish and others can solve the problem.

Willful blindness

Is a legal concept which means, if there's information that you could know and you should know but you somehow manage not to know, the law deems that you're willfully blind. You have chosen not to know. There's a lot of willful blindness around these days. You can see willful blindness in banks, when thousands of people sold mortgages to people who couldn't afford them. You could see them in banks when interest rates were manipulated and everyone around knew what was going on, but everyone studiously ignored it. You can see willful blindness in the Catholic Church, where decades of child abuse went ignored. You could see willful blindness in the run-up to the Iraq War. Willful blindness exists on epic scales like those, and it also exists on very small scales, in people's families, in people's homes and communities, and particularly in organizations and institutions. Companies that have been studied for willful blindness can be asked questions like, "Are there issues at work that people are afraid to raise?" And when academics have done studies like this of corporations in the United States, what they find is 85 percent of people say yes. Eighty-five percent of people know there's a problem, but they won't say anything. And when I duplicated the research in Europe, asking all the same questions, I found exactly the same number. Eighty-five percent. [] And the truth is, this is a human problem. We're all, under certain circumstances, willfully blind. What the research shows is that some people are blind out of fear. They're afraid of retaliation. And some people are blind because they think, well, seeing anything is just futile.
Unpleasant truths are the easiest things in the world to hide. If someone doesn’t want to know something, they’re not going to know.
~ Ziya Tong

Semmelweis reflex or "Semmelweis effect"

Is a metaphor for the reflex-like tendency to reject new evidence or new knowledge because it contradicts established norms, beliefs, or paradigms.
We have no future if we don’t change.
And change won’t happen if we don’t change the operating systems and cater for behavioral dynamics as well.