Creatives often refer to the need of being on the flow to be able to create. What being on the flow really means? In my view it means not being fixed on the how we are going to create rather being alert, aware so that when the inspiration, the opportunity presents we can rise to it.
The same applies when we want to innovate or want to create change. We spend enormous effort, energy, resources in preparing strategic plans and then stick rigorously to them. If adherence to plan is key in operation, it can become the main roadblock when we try to innovate. It seems a paradox and counterintuitive based on everything we learnt on strategic planning and change management.
When we are trying to bring innovation it is important we have the space and the awareness for realising when it is necessary to change direction and ultimately change it without feeling obliged to stick to a plan. This isn't lack of commitment to the plan or weakness. It shows instead the importance of prioritising the focus on the outcome we are trying to generate over the process itself.
When we focus on the plan we become attached to our own way of thinking or doing and lose the capacity to remain open to signs or new information and feedback from others. Ultimately, we lose the flexibility to move, change, cross-correct towards what needs to be done to produce true innovation.
I love sailing and got into several skipper courses while living in the Bay Area. One of my first teacher constantly reminded us that to stay out of trouble it was important we continued focusing on the destination rather than on the course. When sailing he would instruct us on the destination and then let us free to get there with whichever course we preferred and that was the most appropriate to the circumstances. With this mindset, when unforeseen undercurrents would take us off course we would simply re-focus on the destination and adjust to a new course. We wouldn't go back to the course we were originally on.
Why would you do it then when trying to innovate? We fall in this trap over and over again by asking people to stick on a plan and forgetting about the goal. We become attached to our brilliant plans, on how things should be done, and put in second place the first reason we actually created those plans: the outcome.
Orienting ourselves and the teams, organisations, business we lead towards the result will open up for more flexibility. It becomes an on going education to remain aware, alert and open to what is going on around us, to the messages that constantly inform the process of change and creation. It is normal to fall back in moment of crisis to our traditional way of operating. The fear of falling behind or be stuck and even failing make us blind to the possible alternatives and create dependencies.
The simplest solution is re-focusing on the result. This will immediately open up to the alternatives we were blind to and lead us to innovation.
If you want to learn more on how to create true cultures of innovation and be on the flow get in contact with us.