Jeff Hoffman, co-founder of Priceline.com, is a successful entrepreneur and motivational speaker. He encourages his audiences across the world to question why. In 2013, I ranked Jeff as my No. 1 favorite motivational speaker. Having had the opportunity to hear Jeff again this year, he is currently tied with Jason Dorsey to be my No. 1 favorite motivational speaker for 2014. On a side note, congratulations to Jeff on his recent publication Scale now available through Amazon.
Each time I hear Jeff present, I walk away with pages filled with notes and ideas. Jeff encourages his audiences to never stop learning and to never stop exploring. One of my favorite stories told by Jeff is the day he spent with his five-year-old niece. Jeff’s niece questioned everything, and I mean everything around her! Click here to read a tender moment shared by Jeff as he learns from his young niece.
Both Jeff and Simon share one clear message, start with why.
Peter G. W. Keen, author of The Process Edge, calls routine activities “folklore processes.” He wrote that they can be hard to spot because they are so well-established in the routines of the company that no one ever questions them. Eventually these routines become part of the office folklore.
People, like companies, sometimes fall into a similar pattern at work. We are creatures of habit and sometimes just do things because, well, “that’s the way they’ve always been done.”
Over the next several weeks and maybe months, I’ll be exploring both personally and professionally why I do what I do as I look closer using the lens of a five-year-old.
So, how do we avoid getting stuck in “folklore processes”? These steps can help.
1. Review what you do by starting with the end in mind. This is one of the ‘”Seven Habits of Highly Effective People” identified by Stephen R. Covey in his best-selling book by the same name. What is it you are trying to accomplish? Let’s take filing paper or saving electronic files as an example. We file information because we may need it again or because it is important to keep certain records. Properly maintained company records can be vital to the smooth operation of the office. The “end” is a filing system that is easy to use and makes what we need readily accessible.
2. Ask yourself if the activity in question really supports the mission and vision. Is it important to what we do? In your personal life you might ask, “Does this activity or action help me accomplish my goals?” If it doesn’t, then question why you are doing it. You may even discontinue the activity because you find it to be no longer needed. So, back to our example of the files: Do we really need them?
3. Examine how you are performing the tasks related to the activity. You might ask, “Is this the best/most efficient/least costly method to accomplish this task?” If not, change it. When filing, we might ask ourselves if we really need to keep everything that we currently file—especially considering how much of what we save is now located online. I read once that 80 percent of paper files cannot be found or are never retrieved.
4. Consider asking a trusted friend or colleague to take a look. Someone looking in can give you a fresh perspective and help you see things you might miss.
Frequently reviewing what we do while identifying both why and how we do it are the foundations of continuous improvement and help us create a Great Day’s Work!