Kill the Complacency that’s Killing Your Business by Jae-ann Rock

Complacency kills business.

DON’T GET COMFORTABLE! To keep up with today’s lightning-speed changes in business, you must embrace change, innovation, and forward-thinking.  Image result for no complacency growth

Complacency is a silent killer in business, often supported by a fear of change and a strong culture of Entrenchment Thinking Syndrome.

What is Entrenchment Thinking Syndrome? It is a corporate mindset of holding onto the status quo. It is a corporate culture of hanging onto the past; Continuing to do things in a certain way “because it’s always been done that way.” Or, if you’re new to a company, you may recognize it by the phrase “That’s just the way we do things here.” This is a powerful clue that the organization is stuck in an old comfort zone. The result? They are also likely being overtaken by competitors due to the lack of desire to change.

Seriously. This kind of thinking is dangerous and will ultimately kill your business.

If this sounds like your company, I have bad news and I have good news for you.

The bad news: Changing the culture will take WORK.

The good news: By taking several steps, you can begin to foster an adaptive, innovative culture.  And, eventually, if you work hard enough toward this goal, you can innoculate your company against the deadly Entrenchment Thinking Syndrome!

So, how do you make a cultural change of this magnitude?

First, you must be determined to NOT ACCEPT the STATUS QUO. There is always a better way to complete a process, service a customer, gain feedback, empower teams, develop new solutions, etc.

Next, foster and reward creativity and imaginative thought. These are powerful ways to build an innovative, highly adaptive culture. It will take time, but you have to take these initial steps.

This is the thinking within the world’s most innovative companies like Apple, 3M, Google, and Amazon.  Imaginations are activated, inspired and put to use for the actualization of new or radical ideas… In companies like these, NOT accepting the status quo is a GIVEN. From there, imagination spawns creativity (an individual phenomenon), and inspires management-led innovation (a team effort).

Start with the question: “What would this process look like if everything were perfect?” Unleash your team’s collective creativity to imagine better and find ways to make improvements toward that better scenario.

Next, get good at asking questions – especially the “5 Why’s”. When reviewing a process or outcome, for each step ask “Why” that happens. For each answer, ask Why again until you’ve arrived at a point where you can’t ask “why” again. This helps break status quo thinking and can be used to determine the root cause of an underlying problem, which can also spark new thoughts and solutions.

Supporting these efforts, Imagineering is often used, combining “imagining” with “engineering.”  “Imagineering is letting your imagination soar, and then engineering it down to earth.”  Developed in 1942 during WWII by aluminum producer, Alcoa, the concept of Imagineering was used to produce 3-5 times as much aluminum as was ever made before, while making it cheaper than ever

To this day, Imagineering is a process many successful organizations have adopted to envision “what could be”.  Take Disney for example. Disney created a team called the “Imagineers”, responsible for the creation and development of Disney theme parks, resorts, and cruises worldwide.  Imagineering is a core concept used in their daily work.

The Disney Imagineers’ mantra is: “If it can be dreamt, it can be built”.

Walt Disney himself understood the power of Imagination in business:

“It’s kind of fun to do the impossible.”

“Disneyland will never be completed. It will continue to grow as long as there is imagination left in the world.” – Walt Disney

Not sure where to begin? Start by applying the following three Disney Imagineering principles to create your own opportunities for success:  (From Alex Wright’s The Imagineering Field Guide to Disneyland.)

  1. Blue Sky Discussion:  This describes the early stages of an idea-generation process when anything is possible. No reining in the creative process!  At this point, the sky’s the limit!
  2. Brainstorming Session: Generate as many ideas as possible in the shortest time possible. Many brainstorming sessions are held regularly at Walt Disney Imagineering, where they are always looking for out-of-the-box ideas. Remember: there is no such thing as a bad idea. Nothing should stifle the flow of ideas.
  3. Use Plussing: A word derived from Walt’s penchant for always trying to make an idea better even after it’s ‘finished’. Use what’s good about an idea and make subtle suggestions. build on the valid or sound ideas already within the concept. Then, make it even better.

And, if you don’t consider yourself a creative person, try these five steps to boost your imaginative abilities:

  • Read more
  • Try new things – bowling, fencing, rock climbing, gold panning…
  • Explore your passions; Develop your talents; Play!
  • Spend time with creative people
  • Relax, meditate, and schedule down-time in your life to open your mind to imagining (This really works!)

Think of practical ways to apply these techniques in your own business or area of responsibility.  Imagine BETTER.  Do not accept the status quo. Instead, leverage your imagination to always think of “what could be.”

Now – fire up your imaginative power to unleash your true potential for success! Kill the complacency that’s killing your business!

  • Get out of your comfort zone to spur creativity and new thinking. 
  • Imagine better, then find a way to make it happen.
  • Tackle an old problem in a new way.

It’s time…

If you’d like to discuss any of the above, email me at [email protected] to schedule a call. I’m always happy to chat with folks working to imagine better – and then MAKE IT HAPPEN!