We’ve all seen the slides on LinkedIn, the most dangerous words in business are, “but we’ve always done it that way”. I’m sure anyone reading this would pride themselves on the fact that they’d never say this, but how many things are there in your business that you do subconsciously because they’ve always been done that way?

Perhaps it’s time to stop and take stock of your procedures and ask why they exist at all. It’s time for Project Why.

I’m reminded of Gibbon’s description in Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, of the way in the later Empire may of the institutions of the old republic were still followed in actions, but without the original intention.

‘The form was still the same, but the animating health and vigour were fled’.

I’m amazed at how many companies are the same, carrying out empty rituals, no longer even aware why, based on out-dated technology or on the whims of former managers.

It’s also important to look at how much staff time is time taken up with compliance, and how much of this is necessary, eg legally required, as compared to self-imposed compliance.

How many unnecessary internal reporting channels are imposed on your staff?

How much time do they spend justifying themselves, or seeking permission, rather than just doing the work you want them to do?

How much of your technology, your accounting systems, websites and other customer management, billing or booking systems are out-of-date, and causing extra time wasted every day to manage or work around their shortcomings?

We know that no-one goes around actually saying “we’ve always done it that way” anymore, but what if you stop and look at everything your company does and ask why? How often is that still the real answer?