Why are we conflicted about change?

The “instinct code” in our DNA protects us from consuming food or beverages when things don’t taste or smell “right”. It’s what pulls our hand away from a hot stove in less time than it takes for the thought to form. It raises our heart rate to ensure that enough blood will flow to our muscles if we know or think that a physical threat is nearby.

These things the body does instantaneously because the potential consequences of delay are obvious and painful. Literally.

The body doesn’t respond quite so quickly when it comes to go/no go decisions about reactions to real or perceived social or business threats. The normal anxiety caused by factors that challenge without necessarily threatening life or career isn’t uncomfortable enough to warrant instant decisions. We may lose a few nights sleep over not being able to decide between a silver or black SUV, but no one will be hurt and our retirement won’t be in jeopardy. Our internal “wiring” lends itself to drawing out all but the most critical, deadline-based decisions. Like accepting an offer of employment—or not accepting it.

Our DNA hasn’t caught up with how quickly economic, business, social, technological or political change can happen. We have no defence against earthquakes and hurricanes. We don’t ship with built-in systems that tell us why they’ve starting monitoring a particular sector of the economy or the political circus and are accumulating and analyzing data. Or that thresholds are close to being reached. As currently configured, homo sapiens sapiens acts only after the lights start flashing and warning bells start ringing as situations go from good to bad to worse, or vice versa.

No one told Mother Nature that situations that change so slowly that they’re barely perceptible are worth worrying about until it’s too late, on the plus side and the minus side. With all due respect to Ms. Nature, Personal Due Diligence is far more circumspect. We tell our clients what we’re monitoring because we’re monitoring it for them. The earthquake that struck Japan in 2012 destroyed or severely damaged plants that supplied North American automobile manufacturing facilities with parts. Having nothing to build, shift workers in Canada and the U.S. were laid off. In the wake of the Kobe earthquake of 1995, a major source of supply of computer screens was crippled. Banking misdeeds and miscalculations in the U.S. in 2008 threw large parts of the world into recession.

PC manufacturers have been slow to recognize the customer appeal of tablet computers and Intel is paying the price. Despite recent analysts’ upgrades on RIM, the BlackBerry maker’s future is far from certain. The same fate may be about to overtake Microsoft: early indications are that Windows 8 isn’t exactly setting the world’s heart aflutter. According to Gartner, IDC and others, PC shipments continued to soften in the month following its launch.

PDD is wired internally to respond with flashing lights and ringing bells about what’s changing, but ours go off far enough in advance to allow you to gauge what’s changing, how fast and what that could mean to your current and future income and standard of living. We don’t presume to tell our clients what careers they should pursue, what job offers they should accept, or what education they should buy for themselves or their children. Those decisions belong to them. But we do believe that forewarned is forearmed.

Eating food that’s well past its best before date is no guarantee of indigestion. But at least it’s good to know that you have the choice before you swallow. And you’ll sleep better.

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