Barack Obama famously favoured blue or grey suits during his time as President. As he said to Vanity Fair, “I’m trying to pare down decisions. I don’t want to make decisions about what I’m eating or wearing. Because I have too many other decisions to make.”
Our brains have limited bandwidth for processing information, and decision making chews it up, leaving less capacity for other thinking. It's like being in a traffic jam. The road has limited capacity, only one vehicle per lane. Even on a multi-lane highway, an accident or breakdown will force the rest of the traffic behind it to slow down. There's no way around it. You have to clear the obstruction to keep the traffic flowing.
While building routines may seem a counter-intuitive way to create opportunities for innovation, the paradox is that routines reduce our cognitive load, effectively automating trivial decision making to free up our brain space for more important thinking.
Consistency, along with commitment and collaboration, is central to reducing the risks and uncertainty of innovation initiatives. Introducing routines, such as a regular scheduled time for specific activities, builds consistency to improve the chances of success.
What routines do you and your team have in place and how do they improve your work?