Exploring new ways is harder than following established processes. Sticking to the status quo is definitely the more comfortable way to go. Organisations that want to remain relevant in this fast-changing business landscape must adopt the culture of challenging their own processes of how things are being done.
How Organisational Leaders Challenge the Process
By seizing the initiative and looking outward for innovative ways to improve, leaders can search for opportunities to improve the work that’s being done.
This is crucial, for people can get very used to following an established process, not noticing that it has stopped serving it’s purpose. Leaders must proactively seek out these blind spots and challenge the way things are being done. Asking questions such as “Is this leading to the outcome we’re aspiring to reach?” or “does this process still serve it’s intended purpose?” helps people to think again and think differently, whenever existing processes are no longer of use.
“A desk is a dangerous place from which to watch the world.” - John Le Carré
Having identified processes that no longer work, leaders and their people need to come up with innovative ideas to improve the way things are being done. Inferring from John Le Carré, what’s new, what’s best or what’s better is rarely found staring at our desks. Great ideas are found in different places - in our dreams, under the shower, when talking to customers, colleagues, friends or even strangers, in books, on the internet, during gym sessions or even on Netflix.
Another way in which leaders challenge the process is experimenting and taking risks by consistently generating small wins and learning from experience.
Leaving the status quo to explore new ways requires leaders and their people to step into the unknown. There is no guarantee that new ideas will result in the desired outcomes. It is important therefore that leaders create an environment in which their people can experiment with new ways until a better way of doing things is found.
Challenging existing processes and taking risks inevitably involves making mistakes from time to time. This can be an uncomfortable experience even if no-one gets blamed for it! When people carefully try to avoid mistakes however, organisations won’t get anywhere. Leaders need to realise that risk taking involves making mistakes and create a culture in which inevitable failure is treated as a learning opportunity. Experimenting with new ways, being transparent about their own failures and showing people what they’ve learnt from them is just as important as encouraging them to do the same.
To keep people’s confidence upright though, leaders need to find ways to make it easy for them to succeed on a regular basis. By breaking down big challenges into manageable chunks, leaders can provide their people with small wins along the way, giving them the sense of accomplishment they need to be motivated to carry on.
Behaviours Leaders Show When Challenging the Process
There are six behaviours leaders exert to challenge the process:
- They seek out challenging opportunities that test their own skills and abilities.
- They challenge people to try new and innovative ways to do their work.
- They actively search for innovative ways to improve what they do.
- They ask “What can we learn?” When things don’t go as expected.
- They identify measurable milestones that keep projects moving forward.
- They take the initiative in anticipating and responding to change.
Challenging the process is always an opportunity for the better. When leaders look outwards to think of new ways, take risks, learn from their mistakes and encourage their people to do the same, take it one step at a time and celebrate small wins, they’re making sure their organisations stay relevant in the future.
How can you start creating an environment in which your people seek for opportunities and feel safe to experiment and take risks?
Challenging the Process is one of the exemplary leadership practices of The Leadership Challenge®.
The Leadership Challenge® workshop is recognised worldwide as one of the most trusted models of leadership development.