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Innovation is encouraged and expected in the business world; you'll fall behind if you don't keep up to date on new processes or technology. However, ignore traditions at your own peril. Workplace traditions like established practices, company culture, and values give employees a sense of comfort in the familiar, foster a sense of stability, and boost morale and productivity. 

A healthy organization strikes a balance between tradition and innovation.

If you're hyped up about new changes within your organization—great! But remember, brains are hardwired to seek the familiar since it offers comfort and safety. The brain thinks it's in danger if there are any perceived threats.  

While changing a process, restructuring, or introducing new tools are not threats, your employees' primal brains may perceive them to be. Some employees may not be comfortable with change because they fear their roles will be cut, their workload will increase, or they won't feel comfortable with the new processes. 

Rushing into innovation: The Meta case study  

Meta (the parent company of Facebook and Instagram) wanted to restructure their search to make it easier for users. They released their Meta AI feature, an AI assistant that answers user questions directly in the Instagram and Facebook apps, so they don't need an outside search engine.  
Sounds good until you look at the main issues of Meta AI (so far):  
1. Users were not given a chance to either opt in or out–they were forcibly opted in.
2. Clicking on the blue send button in the search bar on Instagram and Facebook sometimes opens Meta AI instead of the usual search results, leading to confusion.
3. There is no option to turn Meta AI on or off, frustrating users used to the regular search bar. 

In an article about this issue, an Instagram user said, "I think it's [Instagram and Meta] trying to find a solution to something that wasn't a problem. If I go on Instagram for banana bread recipes, I'm looking for a reel, not a wall of text that may be a collection of data from different recipes."  

And while search output has changed (searching for banana bread recipes on Instagram may now bring up posts and reels related to banana bread recipes), it only changed after user complaints. 

Okay, so what does this mean?  

Meta pushed for innovation with its Meta AI but forgot its users and the intent behind how they search for a reel,  post, or specific topic. They decided to listen to their users only after implementing the AI, which is a blow to their audience's trust.  

Finding a balance between innovation and tradition requires thoughtful, intentional integration. 

The value of the familiar 

To keep moving forward and remain competitive in your industry, adapting to market changes and improving efficiency is critical.  

For instance, consider Toyota, a pioneer in implementing lean manufacturing principles that prioritize efficiency and minimize waste. Their strategy was straightforward: produce only what's necessary, precisely when needed. This need-based production helped Toyota respond to real-time market demands without excess expenditure on unused parts. Introducing the innovative Toyota Production System didn't confuse or overwhelm their employees. Instead, it was integrated gradually, complementing its existing operations and securing Toyota's position as a global leader in automotive manufacturing efficiency and reliability. 

Strategies for balancing innovation and tradition  

What can we learn from Meta and Toyota? How can we effectively introduce efficient innovation and change within our organizations? Here are a few strategies.

Include your employees in the decision-making process  

Thinking of creating a new process (or changing one)? Introducing a new software tool? Restructuring your organization? Involve your employees from the get-go. This can help you gather early insights and give your team a sense of ownership.  

Introduce change gradually  

Test new changes in a controlled environment. Have your employees go through a test run of the proposed process changes, or have them test out the software. This way, you can see what works and what doesn't work before a full-scale rollout. This will also enable you to engage your team in collaboratively coming up with solutions to help make the implementation process a smooth as possible for the rest of the team. 

Respect and incorporate 

True innovation is not just about adopting new technologies or practices; it's about creating a culture where change is embraced thoughtfully and respectfully.  

By integrating innovative practices with core values and traditions that have proven effective, organizations can ensure that transitions are smooth and new methods enhance rather than disrupt existing operations. This balanced approach not only boosts operational efficiency but also improves employee morale, making team members feel valued and integral to the journey of change. 


Content provided by Q4intelligence

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