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We tend to get into routines. We have certain tools, methodologies, and procedures we like to use.. As processed become more formalized, they become the only way we do things. Standards are great in that they are proven way to things. The problem with standards is they inhibit judgement, learning, experimentation, and innovation.

Innovation is an interesting thing. It is not always some madman in lab somewhere coming up with something. It can be as simple as using an existing object in a new way. Stephen Jay Gould and Elisabeth Vrba, both paleontologists, created the term “exaptation” to describe how a biological trait can be co-opted for another purpose beyond its initial advantage. This can happen in business too. Corning invented Gorilla Glass in 1960 and saved it for forty years. It took Steve Jobs to figure out that it was perfect for touch screens.

Defaults on the other hand at backups. These are what you rely on when you do not know what you are doing. If you do not have time to think, defaults are a proven way to accomplish your task. However, if you have achieved some level of mastery in area, and find a way to improve quality, value, or efficiency, let everyone know what you have come up. This will demonstrate that the original default is sound, or it may develop into a new default that everyone can benefit from.

To work from defaults, you need to People Positive and Complexity Conscious. A People Positive business is one that recognizes people are inherently creative when given the right conditions. Leaders need to trust their people, allowing them to pursue opportunities when they see them. A Complexity Conscious business is aware that there is uncertainty in innovation. You need to be fluid and accept variance and divergence if you are truly going to evolve with the incremental innovation that helps every company thrive.

Instead of locking yourself into routines that turn into processes and procedures, use defaults and let your people try new things. You will be amazed by the results.

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