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But, We've Always Done It That Way!

chris kopp leadership project management strategy Jun 07, 2021
Are you blindly following business processes without asking why?

A young girl once asked her mother why she cut off the ends of the roast before putting it in the pan. “That’s a great question,” her mother said. “I’m not really sure, it’s something my mother always did. Why don’t you ask her?”

So, the girl asked her grandmother the same question and was told, “Y’know, I’m not really sure, it’s something my mother always did. Why don’t you ask her?”

When she called and asked her great grandmother, the mystery was solved. “Oh, that’s easy,” she was told. “It’s because the pan we had was too small to hold the whole roast. We had to cut off the ends to make it fit!”

Multiple generations had followed the same practice without even knowing the reason why, even though their pans had ample room.

Which begs the question…Are you blindly following business processes or procedures even though circumstances have changed? Here’s how to find out:

  • If you, your department, or your company are doing something that doesn’t make sense, conduct your own line of inquiry challenging that assumption.
  • If the answer is “I’m not sure, we’ve always done it that way,” dig deeper.
  • If, upon digging deeper, you can’t find a satisfying answer or one that is no longer relevant, make some changes.

Simple? Yes. But it may surprise you to discover how many assumptions are made, that once challenged and changed, considerably increase productivity and profitability.

I’m sure the young girl did the sensible thing as an adult and no longer cut off the ends of the roast. You can start doing the same by digging into any responses that start with, “I’m not sure, we’ve always done it that way.”