But… We Always Did It This Way

Just because you have an idea doesn’t necessarily mean it’s a good one but we always did things this way around here and it worked out fine. You don’t get to teach us about punching a hole in the donut; we invented the donut hole over a hundred years ago… when donuts were either black or white. Does it sound familiar?

always

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This is no cliché from a poor stand-up comedy performance; it’s merely an experience that occurs frequently in many private or state-owned companies. We are talking of course about reluctance to new ideas where any change is accompanied by “we don’t do this here” – cutting short any enthusiasm. 

When you decide to change something, to introduce something new, you should first test the waters to check if your idea is any good. You need to test its worth and to see if you manage to gather some “fans” around it, so they can provide support when needed. 

When you wish to change something that is not working well, you have greater chances to pull it through. But when you wish to change something everyone hates, you might become the team’s hero. Even if the support of the team is very important, doesn’t necessarily mean you already solved the problem – the hard part may only just start. 

You have to present the idea to all those that can decide if it’s going to be implemented. When we are talking about a conservative company that doesn’t approve of changes – you can present the best idea in the universe and you’d still need to struggle for implementation. Unless you convince everyone of the benefits of your idea, unless you establish clear measurements methods, you are like a fish out of the water. 

It’s quite normal to hit a wall when you propose a new idea, it’s like driving a manual when you got used to driving automatic transmission cars. I didn’t mean that making a change is like driving the car into a wall – that will be fatal; I just wanted to highlight the benefits of driving something else for a change. Well, other than the BS called “enjoying classic driving” none of your arguments stand and the “idea” won’t make it. If the change occurs the other way round, from manual to automatic, the odds for implementation would certainly be bigger. 

Some managers will tell you that your idea is no good, others that is too good, but cannot be implemented right now; they will dodge responsibility, they’ll invoke higher hierarchy, but this is no reason for you to get discouraged. Worst case scenario, they will refuse. Doesn’t matter, move on. 

Nothing affects the company’s evolution more than a culture of “we’ve always done things this way and it was fine”, “it won’t work anyway” or “you don’t get to teach us how to do our job”. Well, let me tell you how it was in my times… damn, I must’ve got old.  

Good luck changing!

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