Organizations have been on a kick lately that they must be “innovative” !! In fact, they are putting days aside that are full of things they consider creative and out-of-the-box in order to stimulate the senses. There are growth strategies, laser focused strategic plans and stretch goals.
I’m all for this. If I had my way, EVERY day in organizations would be focused on some facet of innovation. It would be an amazing environment if someone could truly have this be the reality of an employee’s everyday existence.
The reality of organizations though is that we all suffer from the “RE” syndrome. What is this? It’s easy. We RE-think, RE-hash, RE-engineer, RE-brand and RE-everything !! It’s a constant churning that seems to keep folks in a never ending loop. We fool ourselves to think that the RE we add to some process or program is innovation. Far from it. One of the major culprits in this effort is HR. I’m not throwing stones here. I have been a major RE person for much of my career.
It’s not malicious, but it is comfortable. You see if we can get people to continuously redo things, we control the pace of change. As much as people want to say they’re cool with change, they really aren’t. People crave stability in the workplace, and honestly, everywhere. We strive to remove the variability in processes and systems all day. It is great that this hones things to be efficient, but people lose the drive to move outside of the patterns and models they’re used to. This results in things like Employee Handbook Version 10.2.24 !! Ick.
In Seth Godin’s book, The Dip, he describes this syndrome as the Cul-De-Sac. He says the cul-de-sac is “a situation where you work and you work and your work and nothing much changes. It doesn’t get a lot better, it doesn’t get a lot worse. It just is.”
We need to blow this up !! Settling for being a giant rut builder doesn’t seem very appealing at all. If this is how you feel in HR (and trust me I hear this from a myriad of our peers), then you need to refuse to be the function that suffers from the RE syndrome. You honestly need to call it out in yourself and in others. This doesn’t mean you can’t contemplate options, look for alternatives, etc. But it does mean that once you see a rut or cul-de-sac building, you destroy it.
This takes a ton of courage, but it is freeing !! Trust me when I tell you that when your work environment is risk laden, fluid and passionate that it beats the pattern that we too often tread.
This week, fill in your ruts and blaze new paths. You know you want to !! I’ll be looking for you on the path !!