Who can innovate under pressure?
Putting this concept to the test in a workshop that I participated in Uruguay we did a simple activity. Without saying any words and in a minute the 12 participants had to order themselves by date of birth.
Facing this different situation one would think that people would express themselves in a creative way immediately, that they would be able to devise new ways of communication with gestures, drawings and expressions, but when time as a factor comes into play, people don’t take risks and use their fingers to communicate and define the order, they play their cards focusing on achieving their goal safely and innovation takes second place (I admit that I was the first to use them). The use of our fingers and hands is basic and primitive, but something true and universal.
Verbal communication predominates in face-to-face interactions. If this is denied, the second to be used happens to be the written one, to later give way to physical expression (mainly the use of the hands). How many times, when we travel to a country where we don’t speak the language, do we use gestures exaggeratedly to make ourselves understood?
Taking this controlled situation out of the workshop, where nothing happens if the dates are wrong, to the day to day of a company, we can notice that you can’t expect much innovation from someone who only has time to comfortably do 5 tasks a week and then assign 8. When facing these levels of pressure, the person will decide to go to the infallible method to try to do everything and won’t have time to question if what he is doing can be done better.
Many will say that when the person becomes accustomed to how to do these functions, they will have time to innovate and develop, but normally they enter a comfort zone and are assigned more things to do, forcing them to do what they have learned in a safe way to achieve results and get used to the new activities. Having already mastered all their assigned tasks, more responsibilities will be delegated; the stress will cease to be productive and will begin to descend the hill of efficiency, affecting productivity, work happiness, environment and culture. It becomes a space where mediocrity will abound and the minimum results will be the norm as it is learned that they will be put more burden if one stands out.
Pressure and stress at work are not bad things, the problem is when you do not know how to manage them. If you have low levels of them, people will not have the motivation to achieve their goals, they will do things comfortably and will not try to perform their tasks in the best way. There is no innovation if there is no need. But if the levels are extreme, people will not know how to manage themselves, using "safe" practices to try to be as efficient as possible, without enjoying what they are doing, leading to absenteeism and depression due to poor performance.
If we promote room for innovation where the assigned tasks are implemented with a clearly defined action plan, allowing adequate time for the person not only to learn how to do an activity but also internalize it and make it his own, we can notice an adequate management of stress of the person, guaranteeing a continuous growth and interest.
For this clear communication is necessary, designing a suitable strategy for the members of a team, understanding their current capacities, projecting realistic future results and having adequate measuring tools to understand the development not only of the goals, but of the processes and results obtained.
Without innovation there is no special development, no remarkable elements are created that stand out from others. Repetition allows us to specialize, lower costs and times, but that is something that anyone can achieve. New ideas are what differentiate us and put us above other options, not only for our customers, but also for the people with whom we work, providing a fresh environment where anyone can be the star that adds value to the company.