Three Ways to Break Through the Institutional Inertia of No

Kathryn HaydonBusiness, Grow Your Creativity

Three Ways to Break Through the Institutional Inertia of No

By Kathryn P. Haydon

Business, Grow Your Creativity

In what ways do you encounter the institutional inertia of no?

Allow me to jog your thinking: 

  • When you raise a new idea, it gets instantly criticized. 
  • There’s pressure to always agree with your team—it’s the XYZ Company way!
  • The urgency to produce allows little time for quality thinking. 
  • Despite the high probability of favorable results, maintaining the status quo is preferred to the risk of doing it differently.  
  • Policies, rules, and red tape make it exhausting to try new approaches.
  • Management says “think outside the box” in the same breath as it enforces the same metrics that measure status quo thinking.

Elements like these seize organizational culture and can result in complacency, indifference, or all-out contention. They lead to “the tendency to remain unchanged.” Creative thinking is the antidote. 

You’ll Also Love: Break Through The Inertia of No To Be More Creative

I’ve defined creativity as “breaking through the inertia of no by seeking new possibilities and finding valuable solutions.” It is active, regenerative thinking that impels forward movement and progress.

My new book, The Non-Obvious Guide to Being More Creative No Matter Where You Work, is a handbook to help you break through the inertia of no, with step-by-step strategies and tools to activate your creativity consistently. Here are three simple ways that you can start now while you’re waiting for the book to come out! 

Three Ways to Start Breaking Through the Inertia of No at Work

  1. Stay curious.
    Curiosity keeps our thoughts moving, flowing, exploring. It’s hard to get complacent when you’re in a mindset of discovery. Find out what music, videos, books, topics, conversations, mysteries, and environments spark your interest and be sure to dip into them every day.

  2. Replace no with why.    
    No is a reactive response. Why? is a creative response. When you ask Why? you learn information that can be leveraged for problem solving. When an employee ask for a raise, you can dig a little deeper. Why? “I’ve added so many clients that I’m now working weekends to service them.” Now that is something to discuss.

  3. Turn problems into possibilities.
    When someone throws out a problem, especially one that halts new thinking, turn it into a solvable challenge with three little words:
    How might we . . . ? For example, “We don’t have the budget for this essential initiative” becomes “How might we think differently about our budget to accommodate this initiative?” 

Start practicing these three ways to hone your creative thinking and you’ll be ready for the entire guidebook when it is released in September!


Kathryn Haydon helps you maximize your creative strengths so you can do your best work. Through keynotes, workshops, and consulting, she trains individuals, leaders, and teams to find the unique spark that leads to deep engagement and productivity.

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