I am a great driver!
My wife doesn't agree; she thinks I drive too fast and change lanes too often. My wife has taught our kids, “Daddy drives fast and Mommy drives safe”. In my opinion, anyone slower than me on the road is a slow-poke and anyone faster than me is a madman.
Two weeks ago I was in New Jersey. After an hour driving I called my wife to tell her, "these people are crazy drivers". I think I was the slowest person on the road. People in Jersey speed like their clothes are on fire, obviously madmen or madwomen as the case may be.
The next week I was in Oklahoma City. People there had the audacity to actually obey the speed limits. My frustrations mounted every time I hit the road, why would they not drive faster?
I am not the deepest of thinkers but even I was appalled at my own hypocrisy!
It made me take another look at the behavior.
The people in New Jersey and Oklahoma drive the way they do based on their cultures, history and local traffic enforcement.
It made me think about how this same hypocrisy applied to business. We do things the right way at our business and everyone else is a slow-poke or a madman.
There can be many reasons why a business does what it does, based on its culture, experience, history and the people who work there. As the new driver, I am sure drivers in New Jersey thought I was the slow-poke who needed to speed up and those in Oklahoma thought I was a madman.
It doesn't make any sense for a new employee to start changing processes, just because those processes worked at their previous company. We all need to take the time to understand the business we have joined and try to understand the evolution of the business and its processes.
On the other side of the coin, companies often hire people to "bring in new blood," hoping they can help revitalize and grow the business. Then we are prone to dismiss a new employee's suggestions because "they are new" and "don't understand how we do things". We should never dismiss a new employee's idea just because on the surface it doesn't seem to fit with our current paradigm. Ignoring the ideas from our "fresh blood" will lead to "paving the cow path" and kill innovation, efficiency and potential increased revenue.
George Shinn, former owner of the Charlotte Knights said, "Growth means change and change involves risk, stepping from the known to the unknown."
Don't be afraid to drive in to the unknown.