It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent that survives. It is the one that is the most adaptable to change.
This wonderful quote of Leon C. Megginson is still so relevant in our fast changing world. That’s why it’s important for you to break your routines once in a while and be innovative at work. In practice however we’re pretty much stuck in our habits.
Why is it so difficult to break our routines? It’s hard because our brain is programmed to recognize patterns and to respond automatically. That’s why you don’t think anymore on “how to drive a car,” “which route to take to the office,” or “how to log in to your computer.”
The Indian business tycoon, Azim Premji, once said, “When the rate of change outside is more than what is inside, be sure that the end is near.” So, learning to break your patterns is essential in leading your organization to change. First of all, I like to suggest 5 simple practical exercises to help you become aware of your pattern:
- Try to write with your other hand, just for one minute. Do you notice how strange and difficult this actually is…
- Take a different daily route to work. You will be amazed what you discover on your way.
- Wear your watch on your other hand for a day. It will feel strange, which is a great reminder for you to be more flexible.
- Go to your favorite restaurant. Now really look around and observe. You will see things you really never noticed before.
- Reach out to one new person per day at work during a week. Pick once person a day, you never talked to before, reach out to him or her and ask them what’s on their mind.
Of course these exercises only make you aware of how strong your habits are. Once you became aware of them and your mind is open for change, you might take it a step further. You have similar habits in your work: in the way you design your products/services, the way you deliver them to (internal) customers and the way you work together with your colleagues. Start to stimulate breakthrough thinking at work, by asking yourself (or your team) questions like:
- What would we do if we were a new start-up company?
- What would we do if we had unlimited access to money and resources?
- Or if we had on the other hand no access to money or resources at all?
- What would Google do?
- What would we do if the law would forbid our present products/services?
Be sure to defer your judgment and to elaborate on the ideas that emerge instead of killing them right away.
If at first the idea is not absurd, then there is no hope for it. – Albert Einstein