What to do when you hear the phrase “the way we do things around here”

Team culture in the workplace

What to do when you hear the phrase “the way we do things around here”

Organisations, both large and small, adhere to a culture. That culture determines how an organisation operates and how its team members view events both inside and outside the organisation.

Culture is learned. In an organisation it is delivered to new employees through formal training programs and inductions, but generally informal methods such as stories, myths, rituals, and shared behaviour do more to teach new employees “how things are done around here.”

But what if the way we do things around here isn’t working anymore? Or isn’t working as well as it once did?

It can be hard to challenge the established tenet of our business or industry. Those who have been in the same industry or role for many years tend to be deeply scripted in “the way we do things around here.” They tend to ask the same questions as everyone else does, benchmark their competitors relentlessly and are satisfied with incremental product and service improvements. It often takes an entrepreneur to approach the business or industry with smarter questions, which can reveal new opportunities that the established players can’t even see.

Creative Questioning

Traditionally, questioning has been seen as a sales skill, but asking creative questions can be a powerful and productive way to improve a workforce or solve a problem.

Try this simple activity next time you find yourself stuck on “the way things are done around here”.

Use transforming questions such as:

  • What would it be like if…
  • How would it be different if…
  • Suppose that…
  • What would change if…
  • How would it look differently if…?

Choose one of those questions to imaginatively explore through one of the following outlets:

  • Writing a story or essay
  • Drawing a picture
  • Creating a play or dialogue
  • Inventing a scenario
  • Conducting an imaginary interview
  • Conducting a thought experiment

Reflect on what you’ve discovered

What new ideas do you have about the topic, concept or object that you didn’t have before?

So what kind of questions are you asking in your business? Are you challenging yourself with new, creative questions? Or are you satisfied to ask the same questions as everyone else does?

Just remember: the future of your business may depend on the quality of the questions you ask about it.

Women in Contracting

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