Book Review: The Human Element: Overcoming the Resistance That Awaits New Ideas by Loran Nordgren & David Schonthal

by Julia DeKorte | 29 Feb 2024

Book Reviews

The Human Element: Overcoming the Resistance That Awaits New Ideas by Loran Nordgren and David Schonthal is all about what it takes to successfully introduce a new idea into the world. Nordgren and Schonthal bring in new perspectives that help visionaries to get the world to see what they see, and they do it in a pretty unusual way. Instead of educating readers on how to add value to a product, they dive into the four “frictions” operate against new ideas.


Friction #1: Inertia. Objects in motion stay in motion. I.E. People don’t like change. Many consumers find something they like and stick with it because it’s familiar. Even if it isn’t the best product on the market, or the most functional, or the newest, or any one of the qualifiers that make one product better than the other. That’s where you must start. Give your product something familiar, so your consumers don’t feel like they’re making a leap to something brand new.


Friction #2: Effort. The energy, real and perceived, needed to make change happen. Inventors must demonstrate how easy it is to implement the new approach, or idea, or product. Show that the cost of implementation is low but the rewards are so much more than you can imagine.


Friction #3: Emotion. The unintended negative emotions created by the very change we seek. Change can often cause anxiety, and it’s normal. But it’s also a reason why some people may not jump on board with new, unfamiliar ideas. Visionaries have to demonstrate that their new idea isn’t a threat.


Friction #4: Reactance. The impulse to resist being change. It’s a funny thing we do, isn’t it? Nordgren and Schonthal break down the science behind why humans are so resistant to change, and how inventors can use this fact to their advantage.


Of course, Nordfren and Schonthal get into the science behind each of these ideas, and how these ideas can help anyone who’s trying to show their idea to a greater audience. It’s a quick, interesting read and no matter what your idea or invention is, you’ll benefit from reading this book.


Loran Nordgren, Ph.D. is a Professor of Management and Organizations at the Kellogg School of Management. He teaches Leading Organizational Change, and also helps companies address their organization “misbehaviors” and helps turn things around. Some examples of companies he’s worked with? The Chicago Cubs, Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), and Allstate, to name a few.


David Schonthal is also a Professor at the Kellogg School of Management. He focuses on Innovation and Entrepreneurship, and teaches courses on Design Thinking, New Venture Creation, Creativity, Healthcare Startups, and Business Acquisition. He focuses on social psychology and how that plays into innovation. He’s also a Senior Director at IDEO, a design and innovation company, where he works with emerging businesses as well as older businesses that need a refresh.


There isn’t a more talented and tenured duo to write such a book!


This review has been adapted from The Human Element website.

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