"We've always done it this way"
It's a common business notion to challenge this status, and I had a manager at a previous employer who would actively encourage myself and the team to do so.
Being new to the world or procurement, looking at this from an alternative point of view, I see huge potential benefits to organisations if procurement teams are empowered to challenge the notion "we've always done it this way".
Does anyone have any thoughts on this?
How do you change the mindset of organisations to encourage this behaviour?
Do you work for an organisation that encourages you to adopt this approach?
Does anyone have any success stories?
Great question and discussion. For certain applications, timeless and proven techniques will always have a place, such as supplier negotiation and successful frameworks for problem resolution and other social processes. That being said, for everything else, the majority of businesses will be wiped out if they don't abandon a fixation on status quo because the environment of the future will demand a continuous rethink of processes, people, and technology. That future is being written before our eyes - we have high volatility, the advent of the 4th industrial revolution, and hyper-competition. These are accelerating the rate of change in business to unprecedented levels. The key to survival and success is agility. A, "We've always done it this way" attitude would be a disservice to any team preparing to be an agile player driving value into the future.
Oh yes - WHADITW is endemic in organisations - you go into any organisation and say "Hey I have identified a new kind of thinking that will definitely bring results and make your staff happier" don't be surprised if they look at you a little strangely. There is a problem in the UK at SM level in that they for some reason prefer the status quo - you look at some people and you think wow you have all this qualifications and all this experience "yet". I have a lot I would like to discuss on this issue but will have to put a little more thought into it before publishing - thanks though for getting me thinking.
1) "I want to get from A to B".
1) "Because we've always gone from A to B!"
2) "Why? Is it because you don't like A, or is it because you want to get to B?"
1) "Well...... I don't know, that's a tricky question, no one has ever asked that before"
2) "Why? What are we trying to achieve here?"
1) "Well, actually, we're trying to get to C and B just seems like a step along the way"
2) "So, what you're saying is, we're going from A to B, because we want to get to C?"
1) "Yes, that's right"
2) "Why? What's wrong with A? What's so good about C? And when did B come into the picture?"
1) "I don't know what's wrong with A. But I think we all agree that C is better"
2) "So instead of going from A to B, we could either work out what's wrong with A, fix it and stay with A, or maybe just go straight from A to C, missing out B which we never wanted to get to?"
1) "Yes - they seem sensible options, let's do one of those - I don't want to get to B, I never did"
2) "Dear CIPS Awards...."
There is a simple and powerful technique in the face of WHADITW. The 5 Why's. We mustn't assume that just because WHADITW, there isn't (or wasn't) good reason, logic and value in existing processes. What we should focus on though is "why" is the current process as it is. Asking Why several times helps to get to the root cause of the business problem that the business process addresses. It's the business problem that needs solving. In my experience the WHADITW folk don't usually know why they do what they do, and when they find out why, they quickly become the champions of change!
My experience is, that you won't change anything by talking or convincing only by doing!
So, pick something like "Realizing savings in a commodity" for yourself, use your innovative approach (innovation = solving existing problems in a new way) and implement it. If you do it: "smarter, better, faster" set it as the new benchmark by making it as public as possible.
"Well, I don't know why we haven't done it always that way"
And then move on and use your new skills and experience from this to speed up moving forward. Success and showing results is the best reputation you can get.
Working with a WHADITW colleague can be extremely frustrating! Some people are just terrified of change, I guess. Sometimes you can help them work through their fears, but often the people who are most afraid of change ... never change.
I have a long and varied career working for private sector and public sector in mining/resources, ICT, Health, local Government and it is the same wherever I have worked. Don't let the attitude stop you!! You will always get those who resist strongly but those who don't. Aligning yourself with those for the improvements will go a long way to getting business wide acceptance and more importantly, participation.
Hi everyone, we have released a blog article on this, with a specific slant towards eSourcing...I'd welcome your comments:
Huge thanks to everyone for their feedback and engagement. You've inspired Market Dojo to write a blog article on this, so will share once written :)
I think it's extremely important for an organization's continual growth to be open to new ideas and methods of doing things. While trying new methods is quite obvious for processes that are failing (after all, isn't the definition of insanity simply doing the same thing over and over again expecting a different outcome?), many are hesitant to embrace change for processes that are doing just fine. They believe that the risk of things taking the wrong turn is not worth the potential reward of exponential growth, and therefore dismiss the idea immediately.
For example, let's talk about the topic of AP Automation - while some organizations have embraced it with open arms, others are not yet sold. I think this article addresses the WHADITW issue quite nicely: http://blog.procurify.com/2016/07/07/all-about-ap-automation/?utm_campaign=community%20content%20sharing&utm_source=procurious&utm_medium=social
Any advice on how leaders can create a more welcoming attitude of innovation? How does it practically translate to how we allocate our budgets and priorities? One thing I've noticed is good leaders will be very careful in how they critique, avoiding trigger words like "failure." A couple of my bosses have even set aside small amounts of company money and time to try internal experiments; the one rule being you tried something new, but if it didn't work it was viewed as a valuable learning experience rather than as "failure."
Having worked in organisations that didn't like change "WHADITW", it killed any creativity and innovation and therefore real growth potential to individuals and the organisation. I have also worked in companies that actively challenge WHADITW to seek better ways of doing something. Sometimes the changes worked - other times not so much. But the company was a stronger, more nibble company that could service their clients better. Just by thinking outside the box.
It seems like a company's willingness (or lack thereof) to challenge the status quo is embedded within the overall organizational culture. Qualities such as flexibility, innovation, and a desire to be at the forefront of new business trends are generally more prevalent in younger businesses with a strong millennial presence. I'm not saying that this is a good thing or a bad thing - just a personal observation. Decisions should never be made (or avoided!) out of fear. Sticking to "we've always done it this way" usually stems from fear of the unknown and the additional mental effort that change requires. Maybe if more companies were willing to hire people with an unorthodox or eclectic professional background they might have an easier time shifting existing thought processes.
Considering that all processes need to exist to best serve the organisation, of course it is important that all employees be challenged to find new and better ways of achieving the goals in a more efficient, effective and efficant way.