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“We’ve always done it this way.” It isn’t real

New Monthly Column by Michelle Moxley!
Michelle Moxley works as Director of Innovation for M&R. She graduated from The Art Institute of Washington with studies in graphic design and animation. She has worked in a variety of production settings in R&D, production art and fine art capacities.

Michelle is one of the most innovative minds in our industry and we are over the moon excited to have her as a regular contributor to the Ink Kitchen going forward.

How do you break away from the existing order of things, preset practices, and procedures?
Is it as essential to fight for the parts of the status quo which are working well, as it is to fight against those which aren’t? 
Here is an example: If we ban plastic bags, do we leave dog poop? Why do we pick up dog poop with plastic bags anyway? Are biodegradable plastic bags real or a marketing scam? 
Questioning is the first step to how we break away. Healthy discussions, challenging one another, seeing alternate perspectives, TRYING something different, listening to something different, and ultimately making space for things to change. 
It is important to fight for the parts of normal which are working. Working systems make you confident and wise. Since the normal is far from perfect, it is important to challenge it. Yet be careful what you challenge and why. Looking around the world today, can you be too busy “challenging?” Are we in more danger from that than what we are already doing? 
Question yourself. Why am I challenging this? Have I stopped challenging myself? Am I afraid? Why? Is the process I am participating in encouraging things to change or restricting them?
A healthy system is dynamic, and it is constantly adjusting and evolving. It always evolves. Things are connected. Growth expands itself; it operates as a feedback loop. Processes of change are not linear. Things start and stop, they move backward, they move forwards, and they hit a wall. This is why change is hard.People are resistant to change. Allies matter.  Even at times, those rare among us who embrace change can suddenly resist. Change is painful. At times more change is overwhelming. The idea of failure, instability, and loss of something once held. Fear. All reasons we resist. Allies matter because they believe in change. If we fall, they lift us. They are the support. It is human nature to resist change. Allies matter because they keep the current flowing. Allies support the process.
I have always found to evaluate the “status quo” with clarity, the most critical step is process and control. 
A Columbia University Study shows that our brains are “wired for laziness because they take countless pieces of data at any given point, and they desperately try to make sense of this information by engaging in shortcuts such as pattern recognition that are not always accurate.” Our brains are lazy – my response – Hey! your brain is lazy. Grrr. Then I realized, I do that, I am not always right, and my brain is lazy! Process and control counteract this.
Our brains don’t like change; Studies have shown that change is akin to physical pain in our brains. 
We enable change by transforming conflict into creative thinking and seeing a disagreement as one issue resulting in different perspectives. Independence of thought, constructive nonconformity, and rebellious thinking are essential to group creativity. With these skills, the problem-solving process will dramatically improve, stimulating better information processing and a search for alternatives. Conflict is a tremendous source of energy. Have a positive orientation toward conflict, admit your disagreement, and find where you align. When you’ve found common ground, you open the possibility for creative change to happen. You can implement change out of the energy created by conflict. 
When things change, you are influencing it, and you are affected by it. Think about how many momentary decisions you have made that deviate from your definition of normal. So “the way we have always done it” is illusory because it is changing merely by your participation. 
Change can be scary, but it’s worth embracing because it can bring some amazing things into your life. And let’s face it, it’s going to happen whether we welcome it or not. 


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