by smb on October 29, 2008

Routine is comfortable.  Being comfortable means you know all the words. It’s cozy when you can anticipate the moves.  And when you can stay one step ahead, you can even attain some level of leadership.  In a comfortable organization, leaders simply consolidate their position. Those who are not leaders wait until those that are move on, or move out.

But the problem with being comfortable is that you look around and notice that no one is improvising. Silences feel empty and unoccupied.  The people around you are tired from the things they do in the rest of their lives to engage the portion of their minds that are not engaged at work. The scripts sound listless, and completely B-movie.   Even the ‘new ideas’ sound an awful lot like the ones you’ve already tried.  What little excitement you feel might be more accurately characterized as nostalgia.

That’s not to say that comfortable isn’t productive.  When you get used to doing the same thing again and again it’s pretty east to produce.  Almost without a thought, you can create and recreate the same product, event or communication.  We become thoughtless experts, proficient at franchising mediocrity.

Except that even when you are doing the ‘right thing’ it doesn’t absolve any of us from the responsibility to go back and question our fundamental assumptions and approaches. Franchising mediocrity, even when you are good at it, is not a long term recipe for happiness – or making a difference.

So you have to figure out how to add some innovation, and inspiration.  It doesn’t mean that you have to immediately blow up the assembly line, but you do have to figre out what your options are.  You have to decide if you can live with the little twinge of uncertainty that goes along with an uncharted path.  Start slow if you have to, but once you do – you may lose your taste for fast food.


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