“The most dangerous phrase in the language is we’ve always done it this way.” (Rear Admiral Grace Hooper)
Indeed and this is still very true in many businesses, even those with shiny strategies, perfectly written mission and vision statements, as well as those employing the best talents. While everybody understands it’s not so much about what’s written on the website or shown in PowerPoint presentations, but rather down to practical implementation, consequential execution and follow-up by each employee, experience shows people still get surprised (and somewhat disappointed) when projects fail.
When transformation doesn’t happen as expected, and all those marketing clichés about “disruptive this and that” turns into a real disturbance for business, it can often be too late to say, “but we’ve always done it this way”. When everyone is aware of the “tough market” that continually rides on the curve of change. And when everybody in the organisation is saying “we’re change agents and see changes as opportunities” the last excuse you expect to hear is “but I’ve always done it this way” when things take a downturn.
How on Earth can someone expect a different outcome if things are always done the same way?
If nothing new, nothing different is applied, tested and tried out, there’s a high probability there will be no different outcome. Same equals the same, thus better to expect the same results also.
The good news is, most organisations do employ the best talents for the businesses they’re in – providing HR is a true business partner to executive management and not just another arm of administration. People can and will change. It’s just a matter how to trigger that change for the benefit of the business as well as for the individual. Once this is achieved, be ready to see performance sky-rocketing and the number of failed project (read transformations) reduced significantly.
And finally, don’t expect any “but we’ve always done it this way” anymore. It’s part of history now.