Avoid The Despair Curve

All change is negative in the short run.  ALL! We change for benefits in the longer run, but sometimes check too soon. Impatience to see the effect can harm you.  If it is a good change, you will be better off in the long run.  Failing to build in discipline for the short run is a killer.

Most businesses are familiar with how a learning curve works.  In the beginning, you lose productivity.  Like when you implement new software.  There is a period of disorientation and frustration.  “The old way was better.”  Eventually the productivity enhancement will come through and all the trouble is forgotten.

It looks like this.


Giving a change time to mature is an important element of the decision.  Never, as in not ever, should you make a change and measure it before it has a chance to become routine.  Build in a reasonable time when implementing and abide by it.  If the change seems not to be working re-evaluate the time you set first.

Failure to do so puts you on to the despair curve.


Assessing too soon leads to a serious problem.  Multiple changes.

If you decide the change has failed and change again the productivity will turn down again, even if you go back to the old way. This time from a lower point.  Assessing and changing again will drop productivity further still.  Eventually the process or even the whole business fails.

Be very cautious about your expectations for the change and especially how long they will take to show up.  When making a change no matter how innocuous, build in a time to adjust. How long is a hard call.  As a test, do something extremely simple and see how long it takes to get used to it.

Move your wastepaper basket to the other side of your desk.  Estimate how long it will take to get used to it.  Write it down.  Check how long it actually takes until you can use it without thinking about it.  Compare your guess to actual.

How long would it take to adjust to something complicated, a new machine, a reorganized factory floor, a new advertising agency, new manager of marketing, or a new supplier?

Longer than you would guess.  Same rules apply to the non-business part of your life.  Pay attention.

Don Shaughnessy arranges life insurance for people who understand the value of a life insured estate. He can be reached at The Protectors Group, a large insurance, employee benefits, and investment agency in Peterborough, Ontario.  In previous careers, he has been a partner in a large international public accounting firm, CEO of a software start-up, a partner in an energy management system importer, and briefly in the restaurant business.

Please be in touch if I can help you.  don@moneyfyi.com  866-285-7772

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