Tom Baker's guide to change
👉 do you give up too soon?
It was Tom Baker’s 90th birthday yesterday.
For kids like me who grew up in the 70s, Baker was our Doctor (Doctor Who, of course).
He was by far the longest-running and most popular Doctor (well, maybe challenged by David Tennant more recently, but what do these young kids know, eh?)
But although we all look back and remember his times with Sarah Jane, Leela and K9 with incredible fondness…it turns out it wasn’t all rosy to start off with.
And there’s a big lesson in there for those of us looking to make changes in our business - especially in the way we communicate with customers. Whether that’s communicating more frequently, changing the style of our emails or using a different media.
The reality is that change is difficult for audiences. Whether it’s TV viewers or email subscribers, they get used to how things are.
Those that like it stay and those that want something different leave.
So it’s inevitable that changes rarely go down well.
It takes time for people to get used to something new - no matter how good it seems and how popular it ends up being.
An audience research report for the BBC after Tom Baker’s first episode shows that even the brightest stars can have stuttering starts.
First impressions among those who volunteered an opinion were seldom entirely favourable. Some considered the new personality too clownish and eccentric (occasionally, ‘too stupid for words’) or too unlike the previous Doctor.
My advice: have faith in your changes and stick with them to see out the initial “shock of the new”.
But don’t be blind to feedback. When you make a change set yourself a timeframe for when you should be seeing positive reactions.
Maybe it’s a month. Maybe it’s three months. Give your changes the time they need to succeed.
But if they’re still unpopular at the end of the trial you gave them - think again.
If the BBC had reacted too soon to Baker’s initial bad feedback our childhoods wouldn’t have been the same.
On the other hand, I think we can all name a few shows that should have been put out of their misery a lot earlier.
Make sure you give your changes time…but not too much.