Stuck in the Same-Old-This-and-That Rut? Make a Change – Part 1

Earlier this year I returned from a cruise vacation with my family. You know, one of those floating fantasy worlds where you’re on a ship with 3,000-4,000 other tourists and can participate in an innumerable number of activities and eat an even more innumerable variety of foods. It’s basically a water-bound amusement park.

After a few days, I noticed an intriguing phenomenon. Out of all the different places to go, things to do, and sights to see, I kept running into the same few people. I mean, what are the odds that among such a large and diverse collection of humanity with so many different possibilities for dining, recreation, and just about everything else, that I would keep meeting the same five people—over and over again?

Coincidence?

Then the thought occurred to me. Not only am I seeing the same people, but it’s at the same places and at the same times. Breakfast at this restaurant. At the gym during mid-afternoon. Dinner or a movie later in the day. The reason I’m seeing the same people every day at the same spot and times is because I’m doing the same, predictable things every day at the same place at the same time. And so is everyone else I’m running into.

I’m reminded of the familiar saying, “If you always do what you’ve always done, you’ll always get what you’ve always got,” because the simple fact remains: People get in ruts. And so do businesses. After you’ve dreamt of, planned out, financed, and built your perfect (business) mousetrap, companies often retreat into a predictable pattern of business as usual. However, the world of innovation and data is changing so rapidly that those who aren’t moving forward are getting left behind.

To get out of that rut of seeing the same people and dong the same things, some change is needed may be called for—and it often doesn’t have to be the biggest alteration that makes the most significant difference. Here are a few things to consider when you feel the need to rearrange things a bit:

 

The Why: UNDERSTAND the reason for your change.

Certainly there are some fundamental, structural, or procedural aspects of your business that don’t require any changes. They could be too insignificant to warrant alteration or so entrenched that a significant change would too impractical, disruptive, or costly. There’s no use in changing something just to change it. Do you remember New Coke and Windows Vista?

But many other areas, from the highly technical to the more interpersonal, can be possible areas of change. Let’s say you’re experiencing some recurring project management issues because too much information is getting too voluminous and complex for your staff to effectively manage it. It’s time for a change.  Or what if you notice an inordinate amount of miscommunication or noncommunication in your daily inter-office dealings? A change is in order.

They key is to determine the rationale behind the change and the benefits you’ll enjoy because of its implementation.

 

The What: IDENTIFY the specific areas where change is needed.

Knowing the rationale of innovation is a macro question, the bird’s eye view of the matter. But going from the theoretical to the practical is the “what” of change and is another challenge altogether. The micro level is where you shift your focus from the perspective of the overall forest to that of seeing the individual trees and knowing not only what’s the problem is but what specifically needs to be done to fix it.

So the old adages, “Measure twice, cut once,” “Look before you leap,” and “Prepare to fail or fail to prepare” all come to mind at this stage because unless you clearly pinpoint the exact areas of needed change ahead of time, you may get different results than you want—and maybe more problems than when you started.

If you want to improve your project management tracking effectiveness and better handle your flow of information, then utilizing a new, multi-functional software program with the general and specific features fitted precisely for your unique needs may be your answer. And if you’re wanting better inter-office communication, maybe a quick, daily stand-up meeting of the entire staff at 2:00 is in order.

Take the extra time and effort to make sure you know the specific areas of change you wnt to address before you start moving people, practices, and principles around.

Now that we’ve dealt with the “why” and “what” of your needed change, we can address the areas of “who” and “how” in the next blog.

Posted in: Business Practices