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The Problem With the “We’ve always done it this way” Mentality


Any time we start an engagement with a customer that is beginning their Salesforce implementation, we inevitably run across the phrase.

Not exactly music to my ears, but I understand where they’re coming from. 

More often than not, many companies have been complacent with how their processes are designed or built because the tools they were implementing were rigid and not flexible enough to support their growing business needs. 

This mentality, in my opinion, and experience, can be detrimental to an organization. Now is it the wrong thing to say this 100% of the time?  Of course not. If the organization can follow up with “Because…” and list valid reasons why they’ve always done what they do, then it’s okay, but if the organization has no good answer to that question, we have a problem. 

Why do Organizations Get Stuck with this Mentality?

I’ve given some thought to this with all of the clients I’ve interviewed, and I’ve found that companies are often afraid of change. 

Many companies are faced with countless sources of fear: fear of failing, of trying something new, or venturing into uncharted waters. The worst part of all these fears? It’s the dread that can start subtly, then manifest into a frightening impediment on your company. There’s a difference between a business that relies on the old ways and one that’s simply afraid of change. Whereas the former may go out because of the changing times, the latter is susceptible to failure from the very beginning. Regardless of where you fall between the two, fear is one of the most destructive impediments for new businesses to fall into.

What Happens to Productivity in your Organization on this Mentality?

So what happens when you fall into this mentality trap? What you end up with is a business that refuses to grow because they’re set on repeating the things that got them to where they are today. The problem is that the processes that brought them their successes today won’t get them where they need to go in the future for many of these companies. Relying on old methods and expecting the same results today is a form of cognitive bias that could jeopardize the entire fate of the company. Why? Because what worked then won’t necessarily work today.

One of the most significant issues of being stuck in this mentality is the detriment it gives to the productivity of your business. What happens to your employees is a loss of motivation to bring forward new ideas that further your organization’s goals. Instead, you get stuck with employees who are just content with doing what needs to be done but never going above and beyond.

Every company says that they want flexible employees who think outside the box, but as soon as they hire someone like that, they force them to work under the confines of the “we’ve always done this” mindset. Staying the same and doing what has always been done is a recipe for hindering your organization’s creativity.

Steps to Take to Break this Mentality

Breaking this mentality can be difficult, but it isn’t impossible. From my experience and research, I’ve found this blog from Synectics that lists several ideas for stuck companies to implement into their operations to be helpful:

  • Assume and seek value in all your interactions
  • Be tolerant of ambiguity, confusion, “wrongness” – the solution is in there, it just needs to be extruded
  • Be open-minded, and use “approximate” thinking to develop solutions
  • Encourage experimentation
  • Practice, apply, and model collaboration for others
  • Recognize and reward breakthrough thinking even if the solution is not yet fully formed.
  • Enabling your people to think creatively
  • Think outside the box
  • Allow for change

Some of these ideas are more difficult than others, but just choosing to do a few can lead to lasting changes in your organization.

Becoming a company that embraces new ideas and perspectives isn’t easy. Don’t be discouraged in trying though. Some of the greatest success stories I’ve seen in my career are the ones that started with the “this is how we’ve always done it”, but later learned to embrace the “what if we tried” mentality. Do this by enabling your people, and you’ll find that the results will surprise you.