WE NEED TO CHANGE! NO, we don’t. We need to PAUSE

Contrary to all the headlines telling us to change fast, what we really is to pause and re-connect.

We don’t need to change 
We need to pause

Pause, reflect, understand what is happening around us.
Allow what is really important to emerge in our team and then make that new focus and awareness central to who we are,
to what we do,
and to how we do it.

Then we will put the ladder on the right wall,
Take the path in the right direction
And THEN we can go and move fast.

But never forgetting to stop and pause from time to time and enjoy just thinking and having / savouring those meaningful dialogues that give focus, direction, energy and team unity.

Can exponential innovation arise from a step by step linear approach?

Addressing the uncertainty that surrounds your team, might be the starting point to allow a linear step by step approach ending up creating exponential innovation. Or should I say the innovation that can be most useful to make you and your organisation successful.

Uncertainty is both what we are surrounded by and what our human brain is trained to avoid as much as possible. Lack of controlnot knowing, being uncertain about the future is not a positive but a negative status that people instinctively resist.

So how do we move from uncertainty to some degree of control and a better place from which to take decisions and act towards the best possible outcomes and innovations?

In the only way you can go from the place where you are sitting or standing right now physically, to the other point you wish to go to, in the room where you are or the place where you aim to go to: taking steps to get there.

Contrary to popular belief: you cannot be teleported to that next place, you need to move, step by step to where you want to be. Whilst the mind is undoubtedly much more able to take much wider steps and strides than our body can physically take, the best way forward is step by step. The mindset, attitude in which you operate and create is that will make you and your team make those linear steps, tiny or important ones.

Each step can be shorter and more risk-management change-averse limited. Or it can be a bigger more ambitious step but still it will be a path that you are walking, together with others.

As a leader you need to create the conditions for your team (people internal or external to your organisation, whoever you are working with, it is still a team) to take the best decisions and creating the best state of mind to take those great decisions.

So what are the conditions that will allow people in your team to take the best next steps that will make them feel more comfortable and serene and able to make relaxed mindful decisions as opposed to panicked fear-driven ones? 

Do keep in mind that the concept of “what is possible” in people’s mind is based on their history, their experience and the assumptions that they built over the years of what will happen next, of how others behave, of how things around them will evolve.

With the current degree of uncertainty all those reassuring (and at least half of the time wrong) assumptions are less and less relevant, less and less useful.

So to get you and your people walking in the right direction, taking the best next steps, with an ideal and not sub-optimal mindset, you need to open the space of possibility without creating a panic mode of too many options that lead to immobility: the absolutely last thing you wish to see in your team.

Four questions you might wish to ask yourself to open the space of possibility and create the right attitude for your team:

  1. Are you creating a safe space, where making mistakes is ok and – truly – learning opportunities?
  2. Are you encouraging the free, useful, not chaotic, exchange of knowledge and of experiences (experiences are often more useful than knowledge) that will allow faster gathering of relevant information to make the steps more secure?
  3. Are you creating an excitement and a creative habit to stretch by using unusual but not uncomfortable situations for your team to experience? (An example from a previous article “Why you should take a painting to work to accelerate innovation“)
  4. Are you encouraging others in your group to make good positive, challenging questions that are able to not break down all the assumptions that block fresh new thinking but always careful not too create too much uncertainty? Questions that stretch people’s imagination and give a great taste of new possibilities?

I’d be very curious to learn from you:

What are you using to open the minds, possibilities and breaking down the limiting assumptions of your team to make the best kind of innovation happen in your organisation?

How are you creating the best attitude and way of being in your company to encourage fresh thinking, create stability and serenity at the same time?

How can a new dishwasher, break down barriers to innovation in your organization?

In your team or company you might be frustrated about the way inefficient patterns seem to keep occurring. You try to explain, improve, nudge forward but no, all your efforts to bring about new, better ways of doing things keep being rejected and things go back to the bad normal.

Here’s what happened when we had to buy a new dishwasher at our my home that might be useful to you and your team to break those old bad patterns and bring about effortlessly new better ones.

You can imagine by looking at the image how easy and efficient it is to pick up all spoons, all knives etc in one swoop and put them all in their place, instead of trying to find all the forks spread around the surface in different parts of the cutlery drawer to then store them quickly.

I fought with my large-ish family for years trying to “educate” them to the effectiveness of dishwasher allocation [smiling] putting all spoons in one area, all forks in another etc. But despite some small successes from time to time, no way, they kept reverting to just throwing all the cutlery all over the dishwasher.

UNTIL, until the new dishwasher came, with its novelty cutlery tray in the image. All of a sudden every time, without fail, all the cutlery is now inserted by every member of our family into the “right” section of the dishwasher.

So what happened? What can you apply to your “old patterns-defaulting” team?

Instead of nudging improvements, change the entire “dishwasher”.
Bring your team into a disruptively new situation.
That way they will not have any old habits to cling to and will be forced (for everyone’s good) to embrace new better ways of doing things.

BUT CAREFUL: just a quick note to avoid you going and installing “new dishwashers” everywhere to try and make good change happen faster:
1. if you keep implementing new disruptive situations, your team will get tired, frustrated and disconcerted. So choose wisely how often you want to “install a new dishwasher”.
2. the new process should be simple to implement, have a low “how do I do this?” implementation friction.
3. the new process should also create fast rewards, for all and not just for one part of the company.
In my house everyone, takes turns to take out the dishwasher so everyone is affected positively by the “innovation” and this creates a good habit rewarding pattern.

So what’s the new “dishwasher” you will introduce into your organization to create the change you all need?

Change is inevitable. Are we going to change by design or by disaster?

I recently heard a statement by Annie Leonard “change is inevitable … the question is not if we are going to change but how … either we are going to change by design or by disaster”. With so much uncertainty around us, when you at last see some certainty and inevitability, we should be great at harnessing what we know and are certain about.

Where are we at our best: when we design change or when we are driven to change by fear?
Whilst fear helps create a sense of urgency in our actions, it is never a good mental state. When we operate in fear we operate with an anxiety that lacks clarity of thought, that aims to take the least worse decision and not the best one.

When we are in fear or “managing risk” (as we commonly now rationalise that fear state in our companies) the solution is generally one that aims to stop the immediate crisis as opposed to creating the best one for our continued success over time.

Moreover when we operate in a state of fear or risk aversion, we are giving up control.
Instead the pleasure of controlling, of designing change, of deciding the best way forward as opposed to fearing the worse case scenario is a powerful driver of positive mindsets and best innovation possible.

leaders are at the front and need to walk and change faster

jono-eli-kulkue-1“Leaders and change agents cannot stay behind and just crawl behind everyone else, and change their behavior only after everybody else has already done so. They need to lead the change.

This puts massive pressure on a leader or a manager in this new era. As a person he or she has to be more nimble, more agile and more open-minded; more critical towards their own personal behavior, have higher tolerance for uncertainty and own unflinching belief for what you are doing. Not to forget the high moral and ethical standard and living up to your values and demonstrating that every single day.”

from Mika Korhonen’s blog post “leaders are required to change faster