"This is the way we've always done it." Navigating Change


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As humans, we constantly want to seek safety and security - but when it comes to business, and navigating change, it’s often to our own detriment.

Two great examples of this are taxi’s (remember those?) and Blockbuster (remember them?).

The worst reason to do anything in business is simply because that’s the way you’ve always done it.

Blockbuster didn’t have to go out of business: In 2000, the CEO of Netflix met with the then-CEO of Blockbuster about a partnership and he was laughed out of the room. Blockbuster went bankrupt within 10 years, and Netflix pulled in $15 billion in revenue in 2018.

Taxi companies now have apps and they accept credit cards. But honestly, so what? They were too comfortable and waited too long to innovate and they got left in the dust.

The world, your competitors, your clients, top talent, technology - will leave you behind if you hold precious to the way you’ve always done things (your mom will still love you though, and that’s nice).

Point one: If you want your company to survive, stop clinging to the way you’ve always done things.

You will eventually be put out of business if you continue to hold precious to the way you’ve always done things. You also used to have a flip phone, those days are over (probably, I mean we all know someone, or their mom, who still has one).

Simply put, things change. And the companies that survive are the ones that adapt and are receptive to embracing that reality.

Point of clarification: I’m not saying take everything you do and every system and process and program and throw it out the window for some shiny new thing. What I am saying is that if you want to survive in business, you’ve got to have the courage to put everything you do on the table and ask:

If we started this organization today, based on everything that we know and everything that's out there, is this the way that we would do it?

If the answer to that question is no, then stop doing it that way.

Be fiercely committed to improving and being exceptional. Get real about the way you do things, and stop using this excuse as a shield to avoid having to do the work it takes to improve, adapt, and thrive in business these days.

Second point: Do it for the talent.

I have many, many conversations with teams and individuals about a myriad of topics surrounding communication, culture, and leadership, and NOTHING deflates and sucks the joy out of new employees quicker than joining a company only to be met with a chorus of voices unwilling to improve for no other reason than how things have always been done.

Also, I hear endless stories of organizations hiring talented, get-shit-done rockstars to bring new blood and create results, and then causing that person to look for a new job by completely rejecting any and all of the fresh, new, proven track record ideas they bring to the table. Unwilling to change because “That’s the way they’ve always done it.”

Take it or leave it, but I hear that story literally all the time. Be open to change and be willing to challenge what you hold dear. If it’s great, keep it. But if it can be better, then make it better.

This blog was created by keynote speaker Galen Emanuele for the #shiftyestribe. Free leadership and team culture content centered on a new focus every month. Check out the rest of this month's content and subscribe to the Shift Yes Tribe at http://bit.ly/JointheSYT