“There’s a way to do it better – find it.” ~ Thomas Edison
But, he didn’t stumble across it. It didn’t come out of nowhere. Edison went on a journey of discovery. Similarly, there are better ways of doing things across your business. But, you don’t know what you don’t know. Until you know, of course.
That’s just it, though. In business, there’s a tendency to fear change, to fear the unknown and to fear failure. So, how will you ever know there’s a better way of doing something if you can’t even get past your fears to actually try something new? How will creativity and innovation flourish in your organization? How will you ever be able to do business better?
You won’t. Until you try something new.
In an interview with Fortune a few years back, even Google co-founder Larry Page admitted to having a “fear of failing and of doing something new” during Google’s early days. It’s not uncommon. These fears even have names – Atychiphobia [fear of failure] and Metathesiophobia [fear of change].
Of course, Metathesiophobia and Atychiphobia aren’t fears of change and failure in business, exclusively. Nevertheless, businesses and their leaders around the world suffer from both.
Even large enterprises aren’t immune. If the business is doing well, why change things? “We’re doing fine just the way we are”, so no need to try anything new. If the business isn’t doing so well, trying something new might not work out, and things could go from bad to worse. So, what’s the remedy?
There’s isn’t one, as such.
Whereas individuals with a phobia might seek help in the form of cognitive behavioural therapy, it’s much more complex for an organization to fight a phobia that’s innately endemic. Some won’t do anything to fight innate organizational fears, whilst others will look to Change Management specialists or Innovation Consultants to help them along the way.
But, there’s something much more straightforward that can be done. An organization can lose fear of change, fear of the unknown and fear of failure is simply through being driven and determined, to be disruptive and different, with one key objective – to do business better.
Like Edison did, go on a journey of discovery and find a better way of doing it – whatever it may be. As Larry Page said: “In order to do stuff that matters, you need to overcome that [fear].” In the modern world of business, those that do ‘stuff’ that doesn’t matter, themselves won’t matter, in the end. They develop and deliver no value – void of any significant offering.
The word ‘innovation’ derives from the Latin ‘innovatus’, meaning “to renew or to change”. So the activity of trying something new, in itself, is innovation defined. And it’s the responsibility of an organization’s leaders – from the lower rungs of the corporate ladder right up to C-suite – to drive and promote innovation; to continually try new things.
After all, strong leaders lead by example. Without this example, how will an organization’s people feel free to suggest new things and come up with fresh ideas? Creativity and innovation are stifled.
Jack Ma, founder and executive chairman of Alibaba, once told of the vital lessons he learned during Alibaba’s “dark days”, when the e-commerce company was still in its infancy. “You’ve got to make your team have value, innovation and vision”, Ma said. “You have to be very focused and rely on your brain, not your strength”, he went on to say, placing emphasis on an organization being smart rather than concerned about size.
To do business better and to achieve sustained success, an “If it ‘aint broke, no need to fix it” mentality won’t suffice. Just because it’s not broke doesn’t mean it can’t be done better. It can. Thomas Edison’s light bulb is proof. Larry Page’s Google search engine is proof. Steve Jobs’ iPhone is proof. In fact, almost every notable inventor and invention over the past two centuries is proof that trying something new is good for business.
Moreover, it’s imperative. Innovation is critical to business success, especially in today’s ever-turbulent economic environment. But innovation is impossible without a desire to try something new.
There is a way to do business better. And you just found it.