I love those painting places where you can go and have someone teach you to paint a picture. Everyone in the class starts with the same blank canvas. The instructor stands in the front of the room and shows you what a finished product could look like.
Instructions are given and everyone hears the same things. However, once a brush dips in the paint and is applied to the canvas, something happens. Not one person does it like another person. Not one. Why is that? They all heard the same instruction and they all viewed the same picture. Wouldn’t it make sense that you’d see a room full of identical pictures? Logically, it would but creativity isn’t logical.
That doesn’t dissuade anyone from taking the class. In fact, everyone loves taking a peek at everyone else’s canvas to see how they interpreted the painting. They are unique – just like each person. There wasn’t any hope of any two canvases turning out to be alike.
(These are two of my interpretations . . .)
Now, compare this to the workplace. I was talking virtually with a friend from the UK and we were lamenting the ongoing insistence of companies copying other companies. We call it “best practices.” There are countless speakers and consultants who encourage you to adopt best practices in order to be more successful. They have good intentions, but best practices don’t work. And, if we’re honest, they’re behind.
We shouldn’t be mimics trying to recreate the culture, procedures, or approaches of other companies. Can we learn from them? Absolutely. Have they accomplished impressive things? You bet. Do you work for exactly the same company with the exact make-up of employees and have the same resources they do? No. No, you do not. Since that is our reality, why do we think we can recreate how those companies do work?
I’d like to propose a different approach with two components for you to consider. The first is this – Know that your workplace is your own blank canvas. You can see the painting someone else did before you on an easel. Start painting what YOU see. Whatever the outcome is be good with it. It’s your creation. You learned from the best practices that are exhibited on the easel and you added your own touch.
At my workplace, we call this LaRosaifying something. We look externally to see how others do things well because you can learn from good work. Taking pieces from these practices and molding them to fit how we do work with our talented people is very successful. We won’t ever be (insert name of well-known company here) and we don’t want to be.
Secondly, create the “next practice” instead of trying to replicate the work of others. You are creative !! You may not think so, or you may not think you have time in your full day to be creative, but that’s just not true. Every good idea had to start somewhere. Why not from where you work? The best practices we’ve been talking about were created somewhere by someone else. Why can’t your idea be something that inspires others?
We sell ourselves short far too often. We are consumed with production and results which keep our heads down. We don’t see the paint, brushes, and canvas just waiting to be used. If we’d be willing to pause, breathe, and lift our heads up from the day-to-day, we’d see countless canvases waiting for us to add our creations to them.
This week stop the mimicry, pick up your brush, and start painting. Put your spin on the good work you do. You’ll be surprised by the masterpiece that is just waiting to be completed.