Take immigration reform, for instance. It's essentially a battle between those who have accepted that we are no longer a nation of white protestants and Catholics. We are a country made up of people of different colors and religious beliefs who want the exact same thing our ancestors wanted who came here from mostly European countries over the last century and a half. Those who fight the reform want to keep the country the way they remembered it, and they want to die remembering it as it was. They can hide behind wanting to "enforce the law," but the truth is this is about making the future look a lot like the past.
And in reality, if you dig deeper, the real basis for this desire to cling to the past is fear and that creates resistance. We fear what we don't know. We fear what may happen if we change our POV, our way of doing things, our view of the people we don't understand. We dig our heals in and we resist. And the more afraid we are, the more we resist.
I say "we" because we all do it. It may not be with big world topics, but each of us has fears that keep us stuck in the now and even in the past.
We recently conducted a two-day branding workshop for a company where we introduced the idea of fear into the process. We presented the question "what would you do with this company if you had no fear?" We did this on day two because the group seemed to be holding back on day one. Once we did, the floodgates opened. The creativity and the direction the group wanted to take the company became more elevated and disruptive. The energy level was about 10 times greater by the middle of that day than it was throughout day one.
It became clear that while there are many external forces that can affect a brand, many of which may be out of a company's control, the internal forces are usually far more manageable and should be dealt with before a company can move forward. Yet companies let fear and resistance keep them from doing so. They start new programs still informed by old modes of thinking and/or doing. They claim to want to disrupt, but they won't look at themselves in light of that intent. They fight change when their competition is embracing it.
Ridding a company of fear and resistance is never easy - particularly with mature companies. Some fear in the form of a little paranoia is even healthy - it's the fight or flight concept. But fear that creates resistance gets in the way of progress and growth. And once an organization of any size gives in to that, then it's only a matter of time before the buzzards start circling.