This is How We Do It Here

Shawnee Love   •  
August 24, 2012

As a young punk in a new job, I got irritated every time I heard:

“Because this is how we do it here.”

That answer was the equivalent of my parents’ “Because I said so”, and similarly, had zero value as a rule or learning tool.

Having gained grey hairs and maturity (and been tempted to deliver those off the cuff answers myself), I value tried and true ways. I figure:

  • Smarter people than me honed the methods and made the mistakes so I wouldn’t have to.
  • There are plenty of behind the scenes reasons a method works that aren’t obvious to a newbie.
  • There is also something to be said for not reinventing the wheel or breaking something that works.

Those cliches are overused because they are often true.  I have seen lots of money wasted on change for change’s sake and nothing constructive come of it.

On the other hand, I also know that rigidity in today’s business world will destroy a business.  Companies that innovate and adapt to their environment stick around. Those that don’t die.

Witness Kodak. Memorialized in university case studies, they are a classic case of a company that couldn’t see past “This is how we do it here”.  They failed to innovate when the world changed. The saddest part for me about Kodak was they had the talent and the ideas in house that could have saved them, but overlooked the opportunities and wasted their advantages because they couldn’t see past their current methods.

However, 20 – 20 hindsight is easy. The tricky part of is figuring out when to stick with a method because it works and when to change.  How do you decide?