Natalie Painchaud on Overcoming Organizational Inertia


Breaking the Business as Usual Habit

One of the biggest things that we see that stifles innovation and organizations is what we call organizational inertia or said differently: addiction to business as usual. So these are the routines, the habits, the everyday behaviors that hold us back. We’ve probably all said it, I know I have. This expression of that’s just the way things are done here. That is the biggest thing that can hold back an organization from being curious and innovating and it’s really important for organizations to get granular about the behaviors that they want to see on a repeated basis and this is ultimately what creates a culture of innovation, a culture wherein the behaviors that drive innovation come naturally.

DBS Ups its Meeting Mojo

The new behaviors required for innovation really need to be exercised by everyone, but of course the most senior leadership needs to be role modeling these behaviors. A great example of this is the CEO of DBS, Piyush Gupta, in 2009 realized that DBS was having very inefficient and ineffective meetings. They weren’t starting on time, they weren’t ending on time, decisions weren’t being made, people that needed to speak up weren’t speaking up and so they took a step back and he said how can we have better meetings. DBS looked at what makes an effective meeting and they looked at research from Google that saw two things. So the first is that there’s equal share voice and the second is that there is in a psychologically safe environment. DBS put into place a tool, a BEAN, that they call MOJO: meeting owner joyful observer. So for every meeting there are kind of rules of engagement that are written out on small cards and on playful cubes in each of the meeting room and there’s now even an app that has this as well. So the meeting owner ensures that there’s an agenda, that decisions are being made and the joyful observer is there to provide feedback in front of everyone in the meeting. So they’re looking for decisions being made data is being used and if they don’t hear every voice you know speaking up that there is an equal share of voice the joyful observer can call for cellphone Jenga. What’s cellphone Jenga? It literally is taking everyone’s phones and building them up like Jenga in the middle of the room so that people are focused on the meeting at hand.

“You Take the Risk, I Take the Blame”

A great quote that I love that explains psychological safety is you take the risk I take the blame what I like about that quote is as a leader you’re encouraging people to take risks and you’re taking away that fear failure by saying I want you to take risks and I’m gonna allow you to do this by taking the blame if something doesn’t quite go right.