"Think of yourself as a human smartphone - which stale applications should you be deleting from your personal mindset and which new attitudes, systems and skills is it time to download?" - Richard Gerver, Change (ISBN: 978-0-670-92234-5)
I once worked in an open plan office with five other women, I best not divulge exactly where. I was young, full of vim and vigor, and eager to get my world domination plans underway. A friend and colleague told me some time later, that my arrival was like the barn doors being blown open by a tornado. I chose to take that as a compliment.
The problem here however, was that I went down like a lead balloon carrying three blocks of cement. The devil himself would have been more warmly received than I. As I began to learn quickly, the office I had been recruited into, had been staffed by three out of five existing team member for decades; 26 years service was the average.
Now I'm all for loyalty and length of service, but oh how these women were set in their ways! Every suggestion I made on how some processes and procedures could have been streamlined and improved was met with the same mantra "No, we've done like this for 26 years", and that was the end of the discussion. Regrettably one of the rigid three held a management position, and enjoyed ruling somewhat. I found it all too frustrating and limiting and got out as soon as I could. The experience taught me much though.
Whenever I have found myself on the precipice of a hard or soft option, erring towards the soft option only because it was easier and more comfortable to do so, I have caught myself on and given myself a KUTA (Kick Up The Arse). This attitude towards life and work is simply not good enough, as progress will never be made and, in business particularly, if you're not growing you're dying.
The office women with their "...we've done it like this for 26 years" way of working were clearly there for the salary and benefits only; there was certainly no driving passion propelling them towards promotion or anything. They were stuck and waiting to cash in on retirement. Now, if an employee of mine ever started to exhibit such apathy and lethargy, I would encourage them to consider their immediate futures. Everyone in the business needs to play their part in growing the business, there can be no passengers.
So returning to Richard Gerver's smartphone metaphor, I think it conjures up a rather ingenious visual. If our old habits, systems, thinking styles and processes are tired, obsolete and outdated, then we need to be as eager to upgrade our thinking and behaviours, as we are our phones and apps. Just because something has been done a certain way for however long, doesn't make it right. We have to let go of the comfy 'ole past and embrace the brisk and invigorating new, otherwise stagnation sets in, then entropy, then decay.