“It has always been done this way” is an attitude that has sent many a business (and individual career) to an early grave.
The past often offers the easiest route to the future – “we did it like this before, it worked out fine, therefore we should do it like this again.” This is all well and good, experience does count for a lot, but it doesn’t necessarily mean that this offers the optimal route to achieving success. Another path could have been better in a myriad of ways (faster, cheaper, safer, etc), but you will never know unless you try.
Equally, the world is changing so quickly that past actions do not always fit in with current realities. Cold-calling scripts from just five years ago would be given short shrift in the social media led sales world that we live in. Sitting still equates to getting left behind. The only way to move forward is to adapt, to evolve and to question everything that you think to be true in search of a “better” way.
If you seek, you will find. If you never question, you will never find an answer.
All this is pretty obvious, so why do employees fall back on the “tried and tested” over and over again?
In my view, in addition to the drive of the individual employee, it also partly depends on the attitude of their leadership to “failure.” Not every attempt to do something different will end well, but if someone has tried to do the right thing for the right reasons, they should be supported, even if things didn’t quite go to plan. Every failure is a step closer to success, and I would personally much rather have an employee who was constantly trying to better themselves (with a few stumbles along the way), than someone who plays it safe all the time.
You can be sure that there will be competitors out there who will be snapping at your heels for a piece of your market. Challengers always have the chance to “cherry pick” strategies and methods from the best of the market, and there is no golden rule saying that you will be at the top forever. Unless you change at the same pace or quicker than your nearest rival, you will be losing share.
However, the changes don’t have to be earth shattering in their magnitude.
Much has been written about the theory of marginal gains – the idea that small improvements in lots of different areas can make a big difference to the overall result. If 20 people come up with a simple idea of how to make a meeting shorter, the end result may well be significant. Everything is “up for grabs” and there should be no area of working life that is excluded. Leaders should make time for feedback from everyone – you never know what the knock-on effects may be.
The “status quo” is history. Long live change!