Innovative and creative people are also some of the most disruptive people in an organization. These are the people who appear to be rocking the boat, stirring things up, challenging the status quo and make some others around them anxious and unsure. And these are their good qualities!
There’s a saying I hear in various versions time and again that goes, “If you always do what you’ve always done, you’ll always get what you’ve always got.” The irony is that the people speaking these words are usually trying to get other people out of their comfort zones and open to trying something new. When they themselves are presented with new ways of doing their jobs, suddenly they can become defensive and resistant to change.
Some people don’t want to embrace change as a rule of thumb. These people are satisfied with the known and the idea of trying things that are unknown to them makes them uncomfortable. Imagine if you will a meter with a pendulum that swings left and right. When the pendulum swings a little out of position one way or the other, they are the kind of people who immediately take whatever steps possible to bring that pendulum back to the middle. The embrace the, “if it’s not broke don’t fix it” mentality. This philosophy is embraced by people who like to come to work each day with a high degree of certainty when it comes to what they’ll be doing and how they’ll be doing it.
Now on the other hand, innovators and creators are constantly challenging themselves. They look at what they’ve done and are seldom if ever entirely satisfied that the way they are doing things is the very best way. Rather than seeking change for the sake of change, they seek change for the betterment of processes that impact on users. They are always evaluating the experience people have – whether those people are co-workers, subordinates, customers, clients, supervisory personnel or the general public.
Take for example facilitating a workshop. Those people who facilitate workshops on a regular basis have two general options. One is to take a set workshop and deliver it again and again with no variation; use the same forms, tell the same jokes, have the same discussions. The presentation is packaged in such a way that the subject matter, the delivery, the handouts are consistently shared. The facilitator in this case is either completely satisfied that new audiences will benefit equally from the presentation, or has plateaued themselves, and is not motivated to create anew.
Another facilitator of a workshop may however continually re-vamp their handouts, add anecdotes from previous workshops participants have shared, and may replace content or how they deliver that content striving to get a higher level of engagement from their audiences. They become known for delivering unique workshops, where no two are identical even when the subject matter is the same. They seek out new material, new ways of presenting that material, have passed on PowerPoints and use Prezi’s.
Now disrupting behaviour is often portrayed as undesired behaviour, especially when the person doing the disrupting works under a person who is resistant to change and where the existing culture is to fall into line and do things as they have always been done.
Disrupting behaviour however is what has always sparked new inventions; why the very things which improve our quality of life on a daily basis were created by people who looked for something new. At one time people used horse-drawn carriages to move about and the automobile came along only because someone disrupted the norm. Instead of a faster horse, they rocked the establishment and created what we take now for granted.
Now what about you? Are you the kind of person that constantly challenges the known and is known by your peers as the creative one? Are you the innovative type that overhauls the workshops you lead, envisions new processes that reduce customer wait times, that isn’t just opening another childcare centre, but one that operates solely for children who are ill so their parents can work?
We are all different and have different strengths. Those that are innovative and creative also regularly experience many more ideas than they ever actually implement. They may think of an idea, try it out on a sample group, reject it or modify it, then try it anew. If it works they keep it and share it, and if it doesn’t work, they remain inspired and learn from the failure coming up with other ideas – some of which will still not work but some that will.
There’s nothing wrong with being the kind of person that works best with the status quo. Some people become receptive to new ideas not the first time they hear them, but perhaps the sixth or seventh time. They need to process the new information, mull over the impact on them personally and because it may mean doing things a new way, have to wrap their heads around new skills they will have to develop in order to transition from what they know to what they don’t.
It is equally bad form to force those who prefer the status quo to embrace change overnight as it is to stifle those who embrace change and innovation. You may find your workplace is made up of both types, and getting along together is essential.