Some of us see ourselves as the Drivers of Change, challenging and disrupting the status quo, finding new and different ways to achieve our goals and even envisioning new goals for us to achieve. Others who do not create the change themselves embrace it. Taking on new ideas, new toys, new ways of working. They enjoy the feeling of being at the cusp of the modern world, of exploring the new and leaving the old behind. The rest are dragged along behind, adapting to change, accepting the new while – maybe reluctantly – leaving the old and familiar behind.
But can you honestly say that any of these descriptions fits you exactly? Do you think of yourself as a driver of change persuading and dragging less innovative colleagues along behind you and yet sometimes find that when someone else wants to make changes in your life you find their ideas difficult, fanciful, even unworkable? You find yourself clinging onto familiar, tried, tested and hitherto successful ways of doing things.
In truth we are all innovators, followers and laggards at different times and in different circumstances. The trick success is in understanding our positive and our negative emotional responses to our ideas and to those of others. Our gut feelings for or against an idea may very well be right, but we should recognise them as an emotional reaction and cross reference them proper evidence and considered rational thought.
You must never label yourself or allow yourself to be labelled as the innovator or the laggard. How many times have you witnessed “The Innovator” in the team throwing out good procedure or driving change apparently just for the sake of change – or maybe just to shore up their reputation as “The Innovator”? And how often is it the quiet “conservative” member of the team that comes up with the bright idea –even if it is developed, driven through, and even stolen, by the more dynamic members who did not think of it themselves?
We all know stories of great innovators who singlehandedly drive through creative new ways of doing things, Billionaire Entrepreneurs who change the way that we look at the world. However, in most work places the most successful innovations come from teams. Teams that work together generating and harnessing great ideas, adapting, changing and applying these ideas to the problems that they are faced with.
The impossible is more often achievable when a team of people learn to work together co-operatively and creatively.