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2022 looks as if it’s continuing to be a year of sudden stops, turmoil, turnarounds and daring actions. However, for some, there is no question that this year has also been a year of new beginnings.
If we want to find our way forward — if we want to adapt, survive and thrive in change — we need to find new answers, new solutions and new approaches.
However, there is a problem: People generally hate new things. It’s an example of the longer something exists, the better it is evaluated. Why change, then? And it’s not only new things; we hate innovation just as much. Plus, innovation gets conflated with other terms such as continuous improvement, lean thinking, transformation, etc. It gets confusing.
In Episode 3 of our MCA Talk Podcast Series: Distribution on the Cusp of Metamorphosis (www.buzzsprout.com/1517068), I made, or hope I did, a valiant attempt to unravel it all — to put it into a usable and common-sense perspective about how to bring new ideas to life in a way that works. That is, by being more thoughtful and grounded in our approach.
Innovation is the buzzword and has been for so long that one could make a case that a cult has developed around it. CEOs and other senior leadership speak to it as one of their major objectives — a top goal for many.
Another problem: CEOs might love innovation, but most of their employees hate it. Often heard is, “For senior management, innovation is the ‘thing;’ for us, it’s extra work with no results or, much worse, lost jobs.”
So, here’s a thought: Stop calling it innovation.- think "reinvention."
Does reinvention work? Let’s define it.
To remake – or make over – as in a different form – a practice of embracing change by reimagining and transforming something to manifest new and improved attributes, qualities, and results.
- Reinvention is more closely related to “continuous improvement.” It’s not a “one and done” thing – it’s not a one-time event. It’s regular exercise, like taking a shower. We all know what happens when you don’t take a shower, right? To put it nicely, you get - “stale.”
- Reinvention implies a deliberate effort to engage in healthy cycles of planned renewal to ensure current and future viability. Transformation is only the result!
- Reinvention, at least every three years, is probably a bare minimum - reinventing yourself over and over again. Consistency ultimately builds a habit…and a culture.
Change your Terminology
Why? Research demonstrates how people make decisions. Fear, fight and flight are nearly always in charge of our decisions. So, while you might use the word “innovation” to mean “improvement,” employees may be hearing alarm bells ringing “Danger! Danger!” and you now have lost the time to put a positive spin on it.
So, instead of scaring everyone off with the I-word, how about finding language that in your specific industry speaks of continuity and benefit?
Does it work?
Danfoss, a global manufacturing company, branded its innovation process around the simple, manageable word “idea.” While not everyone thinks they can be innovative, nearly everyone has at least one idea. Fully developed ideas can, ultimately, become transforming.
Another example: A leading construction materials company puts Reinvention Days at the heart of its process, betting on a word that projects continuity and accessibility. Others choose words or phrases for their efforts, programs and functions, focusing on the end benefit to customers and employees — simplicity, organizational health or even staying in business.
Innovation might speak to your stakeholders, but when it comes to engaging your employees, it’s time to stop using the word. Whatever term you choose, make it about your audience — not you, your PR announcements, or the next big industry event announcement you make.
That way, innovation might actually stand a chance.
Six Keys to Change
So, for many, change sucks. It requires one to step into the unknown. To twist and turn into a new transformed self, team or company. To leave the safety of the known path. To lift the anchor and sail into a foggy horizon with no guarantee of safe harbor.
Individuals, teams and companies wishing to transform must endure change. Successful change requires six steps:
Part 2 of this article topic series delves into exploring and further defining the Six Keys to Change.
Stick with it!