Since the passing of business and technology guru Steve Jobs last October, his words have received a lot of attention. In an interview from many years ago, when asked how he learned to run a company, Jobs responded, “You know, throughout my years in business, I discovered something - I would always ask why you do things. The answers that I would invariably get are: “Oh, that’s just the way things are done around here.” Nobody knows why they do what they do.”
“Oh, that’s just the way things are done around here.”
Whether uttered as a response to a question regarding motive or a suggestion of an alternative method, if you hear, or say those words, it should serve as an important signal that "the way things are done" need to be more closely evaluated, and very likely, need to be changed.
Being able to explain the reasoning behind actions will help you identify processes that are done solely out of tradition and may be outdated. It can bring awareness to gaps in efficiency or misaligned practices. It can help you develop innovative approaches to almost anything.
You should encourage your employees to be inquisitive and always thinking about the ‘why’ behind their actions, because a culture of curiosity can be extremely valuable to an organization.
I can think of a great example in one of our hospitals, where a new surgical technique for evaluating heart conditions has been implemented.
The technique, known as radial artery access led by Dr. Edward Zajac, allows surgeons to achieve the same diagnostic results as the traditional "way things are always done" method, but enables patients to have a much shorter recovery time, reduced complications and fewer complaints about pain.
Getting the same results while also increasing patient safety and comfort? Thank goodness Dr. Zajac took the time to ask “what if we tried it this way?”
In your organization, are there procedures or standard practices that could be done in a different, more effective way yet still accomplish the same results?
Promote open discussion and questioning from your employees. Someone who works for you knows where change is needed; they are just waiting for the conversation to be started.
Start the conversation, and your employees will soon be able to say, "That's how we used to do things around here. Now, we do things better."
- Bill Leaver