“We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them.” This quote by Albert Einstein really sums up what has to be done if you want to initiate a change process.
It doesn’t matter if you’re in a period of growth or reorganization, any development phase within a team or organization has initial moments of movement that are very pivotal and can set the course for the next few months or even years. IT has a beautiful way of expressing this: “garbage in – garbage out” (GIGO). Or in other words: if you don’t do the work properly at the beginning, it usually won’t get any better later on.
There are two significant “killers” that we see time and time again that can (negatively) impact these key phases. Rushing around and sticking to old solution patterns¹. Rushing is often caused by top management as something is or seems urgent for whatever reasons. It’s always very useful to subtract the hectic rushing in this phase. “Slow and steady wins the race” is a saying that some protagonists don’t like to hear. Sometimes, it can spark a spar and a fight for time even with no actual boxing ring. At the beginning, it’s worth fighting for time, or negotiating in simpler cases. After all, the GIGO principle tells us: if you find calm, focused waters from the very beginning, then the chances are high that the project will actually succeed from beginning to end. The time that you invested here can be more than made up for further down the line of your transformation.
Maintaining calmness from the very beginning can be a challenge in itself. But we still need to cover something completely different: courage – trust your crazy ideas. Say you want to get or keep an edge on the competition or maybe external forces mean that you need to restructure your business model or processes? First of all, be aware that everyone more or less tends to apply past solutions and approaches to new challenges. Secondly, it’s important to create a space where you can think anything and everything with no filter. It sounds easier than it is. In teams, there is a significant tendency to point out and discuss problems – real or imaginary – with an idea. Creating a space means putting a high level of discipline into practice together so that even the craziest ideas are welcome. The approach within this process must be designed to describe these ideas objectively and emotionally. This requires courage in the team. It may help to start with the absolute craziest idea possible to positively stimulate internal competition. Your manager or programme/project manager should be suitably involved so they can really get into the spirit of the exercise.
The best thing about this is that it’s not only extremely valuable to innovation but also promotes team spirit and can really boost morale when done right.