19 July 2018

Why you need to challenge the status quo


“…because that’s the way we’ve always done it.” 

This has to be my most despised reason for keeping things the way they are. Early in my career, I worked in a number of jobs where management was very protective of the status quo. They were taught that way, so that was the way we should do it too.

But products, processes, and techniques can always be improved. A little bit of tinkering here and there can save time, money and address the problem it’s designed to solve, better than ever.

And, is it really the way it’s always been done it? Surely there was a development phase where the product, process or technique was being iterated to create its current form. As humans, we struggle to notice small changes. But a 5% improvement on speed every year means that you will have halved the time taken to complete a task in 15 years! That may not be a great improvement if you’re brushing your teeth, but if you’re building a house – that’s impressive!

I can also share with you some hot off the press data from the 2018 Most Innovative Companies competition to back this up (the list isn’t out til 31 July, but you can track it here). Data from this year’s competition shows that employees at organisations with the strongest innovation programs are 41% better when it comes to challenging the status quo than the poorest performers.
I’m not saying that we should go out and change everything for the sake of it.

At Inventium, we define innovation as “change that adds value”. And I want to emphasise the second part: “…adds value”. But I guarantee you that if your company always justifies not doing something “because that’s the way we’ve always done it” then they won’t be around all that long.

So next time your manager uses the excuse “…because that’s the way we’ve always done it” send them this article. If you want to chat about what I’ve written here please flick me an email at nickj@inventium.com.au. I’m happy to tinker.


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