Leadership & Training

JS Tip 64: From the Leadership Workshops: “That’s the Way We’ve Always Done It” and Disrupting the Status Quo.

A good friend inspired this week’s tip.

She writes, “I’m the principal annoyer here at work. My constant questioning, ‘Why?’ drives managers nuts. The usual response is, ‘Because that’s the way we’ve always done it.’ I say, ‘Sorry, not good enough.’”

She’s absolutely right: “That’s the way we’ve always done it” isn’t good enough.

Which reminds us of a story:

The little girl was attending her family reunion. As she watched her mother prepare the family meal, she noticed her mother cut the ends off the roast before she put it in the roasting pan. She asked, “Momma, why’d you do that?” 

Her mother responded, “It makes the roast taste better.”

As any skeptical eight-year-old would ask, she asked, “That doesn’t make any sense. Where did you learn that?” 

The patient mother responded, “I learned it from my mother. Go ask her.” 

Because it was a family reunion, she did. ”Gramma, Momma says you taught her to cut off the ends of the roast because it makes the roast taste better. Is that true?” 

“Well, sweetheart, I don’t know if it makes the roast taste any better, but that’s true. I learned it from my mother. Right over there.” She pointed to the far side of the living room, where the white-haired great-grandmother sat.

The little girl approached her great-grandmother. “Great-gramma, Momma and Gramma say they learned to cut off the ends of the roast from you. Why did you do that?” 

“I had a very small pan.”

“That’s the way we’ve always done it” doesn’t always work. Question authority.