You can’t keep taking the money without opening the box

Thinking outside the box?In our ever accelerating business world of (mostly) contrived innovation, there is one particular buzz-phrase that is probably more ironic than most; “we embrace diversity of thought and value individuals who are able to think outside of the box” – but what happens when you actually work with that ethic?

It should go without saying but I’ll mention it any way; every organisation worth its salt in the business world has by necessity, a set of clearly applied policies and procedures under which they operate. This is especially crucial to those who hold any aspirations of greatness and/or corporate desires to make the bench-mark of any ISO Quality accreditation type process.

The ISO 9000 family addresses various aspects of quality management and contains some of ISO’s best known standards. The standards provide guidance and tools for companies and organizations who want to ensure that their products and services consistently meet customer’s requirements, and that quality is consistently improved… (International Standards Organisation)

Standards that can and do drive the vehicle of ‘best practice’ are beneficial to all within any organisation, but not least to the individual end-user of a service or commodity that organisation provides. Standards of policy and procedure help employers and their employees to work towards a common organisational goal.

Constrained by the box?It’s a well-known and much-lauded business fact that so often; any organisation’s most valuable asset are the people it chooses to employ. Why then do we so often and systematically attempt to constrain and stifle the capabilities of that resource?

Sometimes changes to process, policies or procedures may be required, it’s a fact of life in a changing world. It might be that they are no longer relevant to our commodity production or the service delivery circumstances. Corporate and human resource considerations or capabilities may have altered or been developed since their inception.

There are a myriad of reasons which could necessitate process change in our organisations and business, either temporary or long-term. There may be emergency circumstances that require prompt action. When providing a service to people, but in particular with health and wellbeing type services provided for individuals, not all circumstances will, by their nature, conveniently and neatly fit the procedural box.

But still we favour the status quo, we constrain our organisations and our staff with dangerous assumptions and beliefs; “we couldn’t possibly be wrong, could we?” Or even worse, “this is the way I’ve always done it” so we proceed with the norm. Consequently, we resist any deviation from the direction we expected to take. We have a tendency to forget that at the time, a previous process may not actually be relevant to a particular set of circumstances, irrespective of any obvious requirement.

We shuffle along in business, continually failing to trust the staff that we chose to employ; we are fearful of authorising their decision-making capabilities, “they mustn’t be trusted to think outside the box,” – despite vociferously announcing the contrary at every given opportunity. It’s mostly due to that predominant human trait – we are actually terrified of change!

In reality, fear of change is one of the most common reasons for resistance to change because it stops you taking any action at all… (

In his article, Exposing Fear of Change, Mark Connelly, a successful South African business psychologist, points out how and why we always fear change. But thankfully, he also goes on to offer some sound advice and guidance about how we can and should deliver the change(s) required in today’s business world environment (see here).

Get Creative!As Connelly rightly points out; “any successful change management is defined by the ability of people to move towards.” If we aspire to be successful in sound and lasting application of that business concept; “it is essential to support the process by focusing on the individual.” Like it or not, we will always need some creative thinking!

So… inherent resistance to change, in both individuals and the organisations they belong to is confirmed however; when you’re aware of that ‘fear’ you can also support your people to implement change. But only when your organisation possess that overall desire and a competent management structure that can facilitate that chosen direction.

For all employers there is a pertinent two-part question you need to ask yourself in business;

  1. Are you prepared to embrace, manage and harness the power of productivity in loyal employees, the ones who can drive forward and deliver your overall business aims and vision? Or…
  2. Cast aside the inovativators who attempt to break free from the constraints of your (current) organisational ‘box’ and possibly, create embittered and subversive industrial enimies?

Pandora's BoxWithout the corporate will, the competent management and capable individuals who are supported and prepared to embrace change, sometimes thinking outside the box, you’re actually destined to business stagnation or worse…organisational failure.

Directors need to create management structures with capabilities, and appropriate levels of authorisation, which afford them the confidence to open their particular box of organisational diversity… Not every one of those boxes was packed by Pandora!