Why people are afraid to make a quantum leap in efficiency

  • Brendan Farnand

    Brendan Farnand

    Co-Founder & CCO, Knak

Published Jun 10, 2024

Why people are afraid to make a quantum leap in efficiency

You’d think businesspeople would be gung-ho about anything that makes their work more efficient.

Strangely, that’s not always the case.

Time and time again, I’ve watched bright and savvy businesspeople struggle to adopt practices and tools that would make habitual tasks much easier and provide dramatic improvements in efficiency.

I’ve often wondered why that is.

So over the years I’ve asked a lot of questions and made a lot of observations about customer behavior.

Here is what I’ve learned about what makes people afraid of making a quantum leap in efficiency – and what it takes to get people over those fears.

1. They don’t believe it’s really going to work

The first roadblock is disbelief.

Suppose you have a routine task that usually takes several weeks to complete – creating an email, for example, or translating a block of text.

And one day someone comes in and tells you a new technology exists that can cut the time it takes to complete that task from several weeks to several hours, maybe even just several minutes.

Chances are that you won’t believe them.

Sure, it sounds good.

But people are skeptics.

They question whether it’s really technically possible.

They wonder whether the end result will meet their standards for quality.

They figure there must be some strings attached, and that this wonderful new tool won’t work quite so efficiently in their own business or be able to meet their specific needs.

Your tool looks amazing,” they say. “But it will never work in real life.

2. They think it’s going to be difficult to learn and use

The second roadblock is fear of difficulty. People worry that any new tool is going to be hard to learn and use.

They worry about having to retrain staff. And they worry about having to devote a lot of internal resources to getting the new tool to mesh with their particular needs.

It’s all going to be on us!” they say.

3. They worry it’s going to force them to change the way they do things

A dramatic improvement in efficiency will definitely shake things up inside a company.

And so the third roadblock to significantly improved efficiency is fear of how to manage the change that will most definitely happen when they get rid of the old way of doing things.

This includes fear of having to deal with red tape, or internal politics, or turf wars inside a company.

There is also fear of what will happen to departmental budgets if some tasks are automated or shifted around.

You just don’t understand the context around change in our particular company,” people say.

Change is hard. But people resist even positive changes if they have to ditch the way things have always been done. No one wants to fight with their co-workers to get change accepted.

4. They worry about making the wrong decision

A fourth roadblock to quantum leaps in efficiency is fear of making a wrong decision.

No one actually says: “We have decided to keep doing things inefficiently.

Instead, they delay making a decision out of fear that it’s going to be the wrong one.

They might say they need more information, or they need to consult more. And while they dither, the status quo remains in place.

There’s a whole book about this particular kind of behavior. It’s called The Jolt Effect: How High Performers Overcome Customer Indecision by Matthew Dixon and Ted McKenna.

Fear of making the wrong decision is real, and it results in people sticking with the old way of doing things for way too long.

How to overcome those fears

So what does it take to overcome those fears?

I can speak to that, because it’s something I do every day.

You could say that Knak is an agent of change. As our customers can attest, we dramatically cut the time it takes to create emails and landing pages. Translation, too, thanks to our new AI tool.

I saw a slide from a customer where they compared their old translation process to Knak’s new AI translation process. Translation for them went from taking three weeks to taking just a few seconds – for something of equal quality.

It can be very hard for some of our new customers to get their minds around how dramatic the time-saving can be.

Here’s what we do to help potential customers overcome their fear of change.

We’re transparent about the initial set-up

We can’t know everything about a new customer’s internal workings and processes, but we can be very clear about who will do what when it comes to setting Knak up.

We make it clear to potential customers that we will do the heavy lifting when it comes to getting Knak working for them.

And we also spell out exactly what it is they will need to do.

So anyone looking at buying a new tool should make sure the vendor is as transparent as possible about what is required to implement it.

In our case, that includes being transparent in the first place about whether the decision to buy Knak is right for the company.

We see the customer as a partner

We just love to solve big, complex problems for our customers using cutting-edge technology. We also have some amazing forward-thinking companies as customers, and they help keep us at the leading edge.

But not every customer or potential customer is at the cutting edge.

So part of the deal with us is making sure we don’t get too far ahead of our customers, technologically speaking.

That means getting them up to speed.

The people at Knak who work with our customers day in and day out make sure they can go as far and as fast as Knak can take them. We want them to be able to continue to run with us.

The bottom line is that anyone afraid of making a big leap in efficiency should make sure the company offering the change sees them as a partner and is able to help them take full advantage of whatever new technology or tool they are buying.

FYI, Knak has recently set up a customer advisory board to hear customers’ needs and keep them up to speed on what we’re working on. Knak’s CEO, Pierce Ujjainwalla, has written about why we did it and how the first board meeting went.

We’re upfront about how the customer needs to change

When we set up a new customer, we explain how Knak should be used for maximum results and efficiency. That includes recommendations for how a company’s internal processes should work for things like approvals, etc.

Unfortunately, some customers are reluctant to change the way they do things. (See Fear No. 3)

But if they are not using Knak correctly, it won’t work as well as it can.

We make a point of being upfront and telling the customer that they will need to change their thinking and get into a different paradigm if they want to get the most out of Knak.

Will some people find that difficult?

Unfortunately, yes. But that’s reality.

We tell them to forget stepped progression

Some people will tell you that you have to walk before you can run – the implication being that efficiency can only be increased in small increments.

I don’t buy that notion of stepped progression.

Sometimes, progress comes in huge leaps.

Think of it: If a person has no phone, why would they get a landline before getting a smartphone? It makes much more sense to skip the first step and go wireless from the get-go.

So it is with efficiency.

If there’s a quantum leap in efficiency on offer, it makes perfect sense to go for it. Fears can be dealt with and questions can be answered. And the benefits can be huge.

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  • Brendan Farnand


    Brendan Farnand

    Co-Founder & CCO, Knak

    Brendan is a career enterprise marketer who's passionate about making modern marketing accessible to everyone. He has worked at organizations of every size, from startups to global enterprises, and is experienced with the full spectrum of marketing operations, including analysis, go-to-market strategy, asset creation, sales enablement, and demand generation. He also loves dad jokes, even though his kids do not.

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