True innovators know one thing for sure: past performance is not an indicator of future results. The road to sustainable disruption is a windy one and to stay competitive, organizations must know how to navigate inevitable curves. Last week, I made the case for building a repeatable process to manage similar tasks. As a follow-up, this post will explore why relying on process can also be a harmful crutch, particularly when tasks vary significantly or require creativity.

Universally, people will move to avoid pain more than they move to find pleasure. Businesses that remain in a “resting” state run the risk of waking up to an entirely new world where they are no longer competitive. It comes down to a simple state of mind – good innovators know how to get comfortable being uncomfortable.

3 Dangerous “Process” Behaviors
  • Relying on past success: Creativity that leads to disruption is connected to a heightened level of awareness. Organizations must be constantly aware of emerging ecosystems and stay open, agile and adaptive.
  • Avoiding personal responsibility: When deviation from the process is associated with personal risk, people are often afraid to embrace change. If they fail during the approved process, the onus is not on them but on the process itself. Those uncomfortable with discomfort will revert to the safety of staying the same.
  • Failure to see the big picture: Many people are not trying to solve the problem, they are trying to do activities. Instead of identifying the end goal, they fixate on the approved steps to complete tasks.
3 Smart “Approach” Behaviors
  • Change your language: Unless you change your language, any attempt to change the process, therefore innovation, will stall. Without change, the organization merely continues the cycle of tweaking the existing process even when revolution is needed.
  • Incentivize embracing a new approach: When ideas are rewarded based on how linked they are to company ideology or tradition, people are afraid to throw out new concepts or be critical of things that haven’t really worked.
  • Create safety without structure: Implementing change means providing employees a clear set of expectations during the creative process. They need to understand the actual criteria for the goal, even outside of a traditional process.

Change is hard but the reward is greatness.

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