Beware of “nostalgia creep”

It might lead to more change-resistant behaviors.

If too many people are dwelling on the past, it’ll be harder for your business to adapt and grow for the present, and even more important, adapt for the future. It’s tempting, of course, to “settle” into the “new normal” after a company overcomes a certain hurdle or milestone. But of course, that’s only one of many “leveling up” phases that must take place at that organization. Compounded over time, this can be quite destructive. If your first reaction to a new proposal is, “Well, we never used to do it this way!” or “That’s not how things are done around here!” you might be part of the problem.

It might cause factions with the “new guard” and the “old guard.”

This seems to be an inevitable side effect of any growth within a group of people. As new people join, they are brought in because their skills match what is needed for that current and next phase of change. This is by definition a different phase than when earlier employees were brought in. Often, this friction in the two groups — one group that represents “what was” and another that represents “what could be” leads to organizational and social rifts. If this starts to impact collaboration efforts, you’re in trouble.

It might lead to irrational decision-making about important business objectives.

I’m not Buddhist, but there’s a concept I read about a couple of years ago that I keep coming back around “clinginess.” Essentially, it’s when you hold only something that once was, despite changes in the world around you. I hear this being used in business when people feel a tendency to “cling” onto early hires, even when the job may have outgrown them. But feeling this nostalgia effect too deeply, and clinging too closely to what things used to be like, is a bad mindset to be in for a forward-looking business. This is, I imagine, part of what Jeff Bezos implies in his “every day is day one” mantra at Amazon. If you get too attached to the past, you might neglect important data or information needed to inform a new decision today.



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Bethany Crystal

Bethany Crystal


A little bit web2, a little bit web3… Today’s projects: @Bolster & @Zeitgeist_xyz , board @CompSci_High ; ex @USV , @StackOverflow , alum of @Northwes