I think we've all heard it before: "That's just the way it is", or "That's the ", or "Change here is too hard". These statements abound throughout just about every industry I've been in or sold into. I see this daily across multiple organizations that may define themselves as "innovative" or "forward-thinking", but just looking at those statements sure doesn't give me the warm fuzzies about innovation within most organizations. It's disheartening to say the least because in order to get better, faster, and more competitive... we must innovate! Let's take a look at this to understand why these kinds of thinking will kill innovation before it evens starts.
Innovation Killer: That's just the way things are...
This kind of thinking shows a lack of motivation to change. At the least this shows failure in the system to empower individuals to enact change and innovate. This is one that shows an employee or a group that is resigned to failure before they even start. This one bugs me the most as it shows a lack of people feeling empowered or simply the path of least effort. Needless to say, innovation and change are typically synonymous so if the way things are is the path we choose to take there is no change and likely no innovation.
I've never been one to take "That's the way things are done around here" as a real answer to anything. It requires no thought, no creativity, and shows satisfaction with the status quo. Since when has complacency with status quo ever moved society or business forward? Just about never. That's when.
I'm not even going to address "Change is too hard" in this piece because that's just complete nonsense...
So what do we do about these self-defeating and innovation murdering attitudes?
Innovation by Embracing Change
I realize it can be difficult to change, to ask the hard questions, to challenge popular opinion, and to embrace the unknown but this is precisely what we have to do. I know we're creatures of habit and change is hard... but we've got to step outside of our comfort zone, embrace risk, be bold, and my favorite part: be willing to fail fast and fail often! By not being afraid of change and being able to fail and do so quickly we learn to adapt, change, and best of all: improve. We can not only learn from our mistakes and move on but we can get better in the process. By challenging our employees and our peers and giving them the trust and latitude to do something new and better we can all improve.
Innovation happens when there's room to be better and explore new ideas without the noose of assumptions and the way we've always done things hanging around our neck. Sure, there's always some obstacle in the way, or some policy, or some procedure, or something we can put as a roadblock in our way, but I can't encourage you enough... Make a new path and find a new way to innovate and lead by example and hopefully inspire those around you to innovation yourself!