Hello SOTGC community,
How often do you hear: “That’s how we’ve always done it?”
If you work for a company that’s been around any time at all with established processes, it’s almost guaranteed someone has said this to you. And if you are anything like me, you find it incredibly frustrating.
Albert Einstein said, “Insanity is doing the same things over and over again and expecting different results.”
As technology and the world around us change faster than ever before, too many people are content doing the same thing they’ve always done without considering the potential for newer, better ways that may drastically improve their lives. It’s business insanity!
The people who will succeed will be those that challenge the status quo and refuse to accept “That’s how we’ve always done it” as an answer to “Why?”
So how can you be one of these people?
- Learn to ask good questions. Asking the right questions can lead to eye-opening insights that are right there waiting to be found but that no one has taken the time to find out. Avoid asking yes or no questions, always giving people an opportunity to give you lots of detail. Follow up initial questions asking people for their opinion or insight. Progress from Why to How, Where, What if, and more. Don’t just scratch the surface with your questioning. Go deeper until you get to the real heart of the matter.
- Embrace golden silence. After you’ve asked a question and the person responding pauses in their answer, don’t jump right in with your next question. Give the person space to add more. Most people are uncomfortable with silence and will try to fill it. The additional information you get in these pauses can be incredibly valuable.
- Check your assumptions at the door. Assumptions can be some of the most detrimental thoughts we have because they limit our potential for growth and change. When we think we know the reason for something we are less likely to ask questions or consider other options. As you look at processes or problems and ask questions, ask about things you think you already understand. You will often be surprised at the answers.
- Shift your perspective. Like with assumptions, if we never change our perspective we will never grow. Consider how a child would approach what you are working on. Or someone from a completely different background. Building a project team with different and unique perspectives is one of the easiest ways to accomplish this. Just make sure to give all the people on the team a chance to voice their thoughts and insights.
- Be firm, but don’t be antagonistic. Driving change with any group of people can be difficult. It is sometimes easier to give in to someone with a vice grip on the past than it is to deal with the pain of change. Antagonizing those people is the quickest way to ensure failure, misery, or both in these situations. Understand their point of view and be sensitive to their reasoning. Many people fear change will lead to a loss of a job. Be firm about the need to move forward and how it will reap more rewards in the long run.
George Bernard Shaw said, “Progress is impossible without change, and those who cannot change their minds cannot change anything.”
Those who create the future will do so not by doing the same things that have always been done. Business leaders such as Steve Jobs and Bill Gates and social leaders such as Gandhi and Martin Luther King, Jr., made their impact on the world by going against the standards. They were not afraid to question “the way it has always been done.”
Learn to stand out in the business world and stop the business insanity by improving your questions, embracing silence, and challenging your assumptions and perspective. Lead the way within your organization, and pave the way for your own success as well as your company’s.
Tell us how you are challenging the norms in your own work. Sharing examples can help us all see ways to improve the status quo.