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MANAGING ROUTINES – A WELL KEPT SECRET.

A WELL KEPT SECRET–THE LINK BETWEEN MANAGING ROUTINES, QUALITY LIFE, AND, HIGH PERFORMANCE.

Thinking experts argue that innovative practices always appear valuable after the fact. In the real life marketplace we experience this principle  in this way. After the launch of new feature or invention, many wonder how come they didn’t see it before. If only, I knew, I would have made it, others would say. Still others often wonder why is it that top performers make it look so easy?

Could routines be one of the things that make the difference?

A routine is a step or a set of repeated steps that produce an outcome. Over a period of time, theses routines shape our habits. We become comfortable with them and seldom do we proactively monitor these steps. However there are some who have a meta-routine. They think about their routines every time, and thereby influence performance and quality.

Mary is a house keeper at a hospital. When mopping a tiled floor, she repeatedly washes the mop, and, considers the task complete only when the water in the pail is crystal clean. At times, she will test the cleanliness of a surface by using an alternative media or solution. At other times, she will increase the light in the room and observe any missteps. It is no surprise that patients notice when she is not on the job. Mary measures quality by paying attention to her routines.

Managing your routines don’t have to be complex. It could be a simple check list.  Pilots follow scripts during landing and take – off.  Some hospitals have transferred this check –list to operating rooms with significant success.  The advantage of listing a routine is that it allows you to mega – think, think about your thinking.

Managing your routines places you in good company.

Here are some routines that were completed during the last Royal wedding in England:

·         Every bouquet was made from roses whose leaves were the same length.

·         A tee square was used to position each glass from the edge of the banquet table.

·         The needles used to sew the wedding gown were changed after a fixed number of stitches.

While routines belong to an individual, a group, an organization or a business, they do not happen in a vacuum. Individuals changes jobs or relocate; leadership of organizations changes and businesses merge or are sold. Those are the things that we can easily see and trigger the need for a change in routines. However, the world has become increasingly complex, and, consequently, the context of our habits is now far more complicated that many imagine.

Some years ago, three performers at a Guitar festival requested access to the performing area for 3 hours before the scheduled start time. During the rehearsal, they checked the acoustics and lighting of the room, they each played two guitars – one a backup, and practiced their two songs – not new for them – for 2 hours. It is little wonder that the trio is among the top guitarists in the world.

Ultimately, if one wants to stand out in the crowd, or become an outlier, managing routines may be a secret that you may want to cherish.

RULE # 1: FAST FORWARD WORK BACKWARDS. – START WITH END POINT

RULE # 2:  PRACTICE META- ROUTINES – THINK ABOUT YOUR ROUTINES.

HOW TO LET GO AND LET INNOVATION BE!

The practice of innovating is neither new, nor is it a gift of a superior mind. Yet, often the capability of creating something new remains dormant until a difficult situation commands our attention. Some call it ‘necessity is the mother of invention.’ Others say, let us ‘think outside the box.’  However, do we have to wait on unexpected factors to incorporate this practice into our lives?

The practice of innovating adds value to existing circumstances.       

While hiking in a forest, Tim and Jim fell into a deep pit. Bob is convinced that it is a trap set by robbers. “What are we going to do? I didn’t see the pit. Surely, the robbers will soon come and ask us to exchange our valuables for our freedom. I’ve got a knife, where can we hide?” He whispered.

But hours passed, and no one ever came.

On the other hand, Jim looked around and made a checklist: lantern, matches, bruised hand, six days of food, a tool box and a back – pack.

And then Jim said: “we need to raise the bottom of the hole up twelve feet.

Bob smitten by the ‘fair and unfair’, and ‘that’s not right viruses awaited the grace of the unknown robbers.

Jim knew what he had, and matched it against wanted to do. By so doing, he created a mental tension that activated his creative juices. Jim now had a road map – a long-term view. He had to find ways to close the gap.

Two days later, the two friends sat under a tree laughing and counting their lucky stars.

“Jim, we think differently, don’t we?” Said, Tim.

“I’m not sure. I made the ladder with the rope and the claws that you put in the school box.” Said, Jim.

So are you Jim or Bob or neither? Would you have reacted, responded or argued?

More importantly, how can we develop our built – in creative reservoir (thinkers view) and how do we start?

Here is a simple experiment.

Ed Debono, a renowned teacher of thinking raised this question in a workshop. Suppose cars had square wheels? We know that is not so. However, the juxtaposition of circular and square shapes forces one to think outside the box. If the wheels are square then the surface of the roads could be like the edges of a saw. Then again we may get an idea that can be used elsewhere. In the hiker’s case, adversity generated the possibilities that Jim used.

Now, was Jim a problem solver or was he in the creating business?

Genesis, the first book of the Bible, begins with the ‘creation’ story. The first four verses provide a process that parallels (or vice – versa) the thinking patterns (sequence) of artists and innovators. It begins with a blank page – the earth was without form and then a stated vision – let there be light.

If we follow the conversation, verse by verse, three key words emerge BE, GET, and HAVE. Together, they provide a system which has been successfully applied to many situations. Interestingly, there are times in life when some reverse the sequence.

Is this pattern familiar to you?

When I GET money, I will buy (HAVE) a house, and then I will BE happy?

Perhaps if the above process worked, we could safely argue that all millionaires are happy. But is that so?

Changing our thinking patterns is always tough but not impossible. The Thomas Edison story, for example, demonstrates the power of repetition. For him, every failure was a success. Henry Ford was not an engineer, but his persistence compelled others to fulfill his dream. In both cases they worked backwards from the end point.

Ultimately, the practice of innovating becomes a matter of choice and not need.  Here are a few suggestions to start thinking innovation:

Decide what it is that you want to create.

Link what you have with some other word or situation. It can be farfetched.

Repeatedly adjust your perspective and simply collect ideas.

Postpone any judgment during the collection of ideas. 

Harvest the new ideas. Match  them with a possible need or a benefit.

Have fun closing the difference between what you want to create and what you have.

RULE NUMBER 1: FAST FORWARD WORK BACKWARDS.

Let go and let innovation be!

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