(Hint: It’s not a fear of Mexican food)

Tachophobia is in fact when someone has an abnormal fear of speed i.e. doing something too fast. This most often relates to physical motion, as in driving too fast, but notably it can also relate to pace of life or change. This is one of the innovator’s biggest, yet often least considered challenges.

Most of us have probably experienced tachophobia at some point in our lives; whether it was being forced on to that massive rollercoaster ride, or whether it was being pushed out of our comfort zone by the arrival of a new product or technology…

Being sceptical of new inventions and technologies is not a new thing for the human race. Resistance has historically mostly been born out of a fear of the unknown and with this a reluctance to change. In Victorian Britain for example, railway construction was largely frowned on by the general public precisely because of what it represented: a changing and progressing world. Many people were also scared, because passenger trains were new, powerful and unknown. Victorians genuinely wondered whether the human body would survive travelling at nearly 25 km per hour! However, once the tachophobes realised they could in fact breathe perfectly well during train travel, the revolutionary benefits of this mode of transport quickly outshone any fears and negativity towards it.

The telephone was another invention which caused a social stir, some feared electrocution by the new device, some even believed that it was an ‘instrument of the Devil’[1]! The extensive network of criss-crossing telephone lines also aggravated the general public, for reasons much the same as our present-day issues with wind farms. Once again though, fears that it was channelling evil spirits eventually subsided and so the telephone was gradually adopted, eventually transforming the world of communication.

Returning to the present day, what were your thoughts on contactless card payments when this phenomenon was first introduced? We will be the first to put our hands up and admit that we were sceptical, perhaps even cynical, favouring ye olde chip and pin which was safe and trusted. Yet the simplicity and efficiency of this innovation soon outweighed these feelings. Apparently using PayWave/PayPass, you can save 3 hour 54 minutes of your life every month and who can argue with that!

Whilst the idea of fearing the pace of change may seem rather silly, it is something that every prospective innovator should be very conscious of. We may laugh at the Victorians’ seemingly irrational fears of trains and telephones, but actually at that time they would’ve been perfectly legitimate concerns. Looking back through history and the pattern of change-related resistance, innovators can’t simply expect that the consumer is going to readily adopt to their new idea or invention. Just because it makes perfect sense to one person, doesn’t mean the consumer feels the same way. This is why the greatest innovations are built around the customer and have one eye on developing the best product or service and the other on maximum buy-in.

With the increasing pace of change and importantly, rate of adoption, you could argue that Tachophobia is diminishing in the modern world. But is it really? Maybe it’s less about fearing the pace of change but more the change itself? Or perhaps this is one and the same? Such is the nature of innovation, it will be interesting to see how we as consumers cope with the looming prospects of space tourism, drones and driverless cars, for example. How quickly or readily will these become a part of our everyday lives? Ultimately, it will come down to how well they are presented to us and how well they fulfil our needs. Only time will tell…

[1]ericssonhistory.com


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