About one year ago, I wrote an article about monkeys and ladder experiment. Despite seeing someone posting it on LinkedIn at least once a week, it was never conducted. The analogy is useful as a brilliant explanation on how people in workplace can become conditioned to do something completely senseless.

Just because “that’s how we do things around here!”

Day in and out, people fall for this trap. I’m guilty as charged, every time I enter a new full time engagement, I soak into some aspects of the place – cultural ones the most. Unless one is specifically hired to rock the boat, it’s remarkably hard to challenge the reality of a job. That’s just how people do – we’re extremely social and we need acceptance of each of our tribes – including the one at work. If we fail, we’re either ousted, or bail out ourselves.

There’s a caveat though. Somebody has to rock the boat, unless you deliberately want the business to fail. If it made it through first three years (in which 90 percent of businesses fail), it means it’s offering, and way of working are fit for market. Thing is, that can only be true for a short while. Your customers and competition will keep pushing the envelope and you need to adapt to that. You need to evolve as your market does. To quote Grace Hopper, a pioneer of computer science (she was a programmer during World War 2):

The most dangerous phrase in the language is, ‘We’ve always done it this way.’

Without rocking the boat, evolution will not happen, and your business will lose the grip of the market.

How exactly would you do that? Ask questions.

Why do we do it this way?

What do we expect to achieve by doing it?

Are there other options to consider?

What can we do to make it faster / easier / cheaper?

Just remember to never settle. Unless you’re fine not climbing the ladder just because someone said so. If others follow, there will be nothing to climb pretty soon, though.