Don’t settle for ‘the way it’s always been done’

When people say they’re in the groove, they mean it as a positive. They’ve found a way of doing things that works, so they keep at it. But even the best grooves, if you stay in them long enough, can start to look a lot like a rut. And ruts are bad for business. Ruts mean we’re doing things the way they’ve always been done instead of looking for better solutions.

In their recent book Detonate authors Geoff Tuff and Steven Goldbach lay out a fresh case for business improvement. The authors, who are senior executive consultants with Deloitte, claim that companies delude themselves about what it really takes to survive. We do things a certain way because that’s the way they have always been done, and we don’t think deeply about the reasons behind our decisions.

That approach simply won’t work anymore. The power of digital and the internet has changed the game, and change is coming at a rate that forces us to look more closely at our business habits. If we stay in a rut too long, we may ultimately find it’s taking us the wrong direction.

Tuff and Goldbach challenge companies like Meyers to question the very things that create an illusion of stability. To look at our grooves, in other words, and figure out whether they’re actually ruts. They suggest that every time we encounter a practice in our day-to-day activities, we ask three questions about its history, role, and value in our company:

  1. Why do we do something in a particular way? How long has this practice or process existed? Why was it established in the first place? Is it still useful?
  2. What would our business look like without this practice? What would be the impact on Meyers’ performance? Does the practice drive successful outcomes?
  3. Does the practice add value and solve real business problems? If not, can we modify the process to make it useful, or should we stop doing it?

We no doubt have an array of truly important business practices that add value for Meyers and our customers. I’ll bet we have a nearly equal list of business practices that we have adopted over the years that have taken on a life of their own. As a company, we challenge ourselves to improve those practices or simply stop doing them.

Together, we can ditch the ruts and get into the groove.