Join Nancy Napier for an in-depth discussion in this video Assessing common challenges, part of Building Creative Organizations.
Infusing the notion of doing things differently to get better is easy to say but sometimes hard to do, but as with many challenges, the payoff can be great. So let's talk about three of the most common challenges that leaders face when they try to encourage people to do things differently, and how to overcome this challenges. Model creative leadership, don't just talk about it. When leaders in a firm talk about doing things differently, they need to be ready to show what they mean and live by those words.
That means modeling the behaviors they want to see in others. In meetings, it means listening hard to what people bring up that may seem off the wall. It may mean stopping for five minutes in the hallway to say, tell me more, to an employee who's just come across a new way to help customers or an idea that will cut out waste. It means giving people and ideas some time, a couple of days, a week or month to try something out and even let it fail to learn from it and do things differently the next time.
When it comes to shifting behaviors, leaders must lead. They're the ones who connect people with the future. And if it includes doing things differently, then they have to show what they mean. Don't just talk about it, do it, make creativity part of who you are. Some people think that creativity has to lead to something big new product or service some major shift in operations or cost reduction. Yes, those things are nice, but doing things differently is a habit that we need on all times in all sorts of places.
Leaders and employees alike need to begin to make creativity a habit, part of their daily routine, like brushing their teeth, in ways large and small. For instance, if you look at your own daily routine, you may find some small ways to improve your performance. I'm a huge NPR fan, but decided a year ago to turn it off in my car. Now my commute is only about 10 minutes so it's not long, but that silent in the car has boost my ability to think through problems, to come up with new ideas. Just because I decided to do something differently and give myself that quiet space.
Think through the daily routine that you find in your own life, and in your organization's life. Where are there small or large places to try something differently. Now and then, put everything out there and consider whether it should be done in another way that might enhance performance. As you do that, your employees will notice and begin to do it themselves. Give it time. Changing the way they behave and think takes time. Don't expect to turn your organization into a creative hub overnight, especially if it's not something you're comfortable with to start with. Try it out in small ways and then build up.
You're building the creative muscle, and just like any sort of workout that takes time. One organization I work with uses what they call a 90-day cycle. They choose a goal or something to try out and push hard on that goal for 90 days. It might be, for example, to use a new software package or how they find perspective customers. After 90 days of intensive effort, the group comes together to review what worked or didn't and decide what to keep and toss, and then move on. As a CEO says, we can all focus on doing one or two things differently for a short, intensive period.
And that allows us to fail fast and learn faster. Use these three challenges to help encourage people to do things differently, and in the end, you may just increase performance.