Do you remember this time last year?

Memory is a strange feature of our brains; it is essential for everything we do (think for a moment if you had to learn every day to walk again as your brain had forgotten what to do.l.!). Yet it fails us so much.

Everyone you speak with lately is worried about the recession. We seem to have forgotten that it was this time last year we were discussing it.

Everyone you speak with lately is amazed at the billions that Mr Madoff has seemingly made disappear. Yet last year at this time billions had “disappeared” from Societe Generale.

Everyone you speak with lately is saying sales in the High Street are down because the Internet has taken away the trade. But that’s exactly the explanation for poor sales this time last year.

In other words, little has actually changed in the last year. Bricks and mortar retailers are still apparently surprised that the Internet is “stealing” their customers. Financial regulators still seem amazed that financiers could make off with money. And business people still think the recession is going to happen to other businesses but not their own.

The problem is a deep rooted psychological one – we hate change and have to adapt to it slowly. The recession was actually with us well over a year ago, but we didn’t want to accept it because it would mean too much change. The financial regulators know that there are serious problems with their industry, but to deal with it effectively would mean too much change. And High Street retailers accept in their heart of hearts that the Internet will eventually take away all their customers, but to handle that threat involves too much change.

So we all stick our heads where the sun doesn’t shine and hope it will all go away. Indeed, that’s exactly what most businesses seem to be doing right now. Few people are back at work – most of the UK is still “on holiday”. And that hasn’t changed from a year ago, either. Or the year before that, or indeed a decade before that. The “Christmas Season” seems to be getting longer and longer each year.

Right at the time we need to knuckle down and get on with things, we take a break. Meanwhile, over in China, India, and Korea, enterprising Internet marketers are – at this very moment – setting up businesses online that will steal your customers and marketplace.

No longer is it possible to hope that change is unnecessary, or that the recession will affect other people, or that you can carry on as normal. We are going to have to accept that radical change is vital to our business survival. Otherwise, this time next year I’m sure my “New Year Message” will be very bleak indeed.

In the meantime, if you realise that change is important in the coming year, but you’re not sure how to handle it, this Eight Step Model of change should help.

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