A long time ago in a job far, far away, a senior and highly respected colleague of mine had a poster in his office, which said: ‘If it ain’t broke… break it.’
The young me found this to be an odd concept. Why break something if it’s working fine and ticking all the boxes? But I’ve never forgotten that poster and, as I’ve matured and moved on through my career, its message has started to strike a much deeper chord with me.
For me the idea is this: we are all guilty sometimes of taking the path of least resistance; of leaping instantly on the first solution that occurs to us; of following a pattern of behaviour simply because ‘we’ve always done it that way’.
But is that the best approach?
I’ve made a point in recent years of challenging myself and those around me (sorry!) to ignore tried and tested solutions and try instead to come up with something new and creative. It’s usually driven by a desire to find a better editorial approach, but it might equally be about a piece of process, or deciding who in the team does certain jobs.
The ethos extends also beyond work: people sometimes become pigeon-holed by the way they behave or talk, believing what has served them well in the past will always be just fine. But that’s actually rarely the case. We all change and evolve over time, and sometimes we need to jolt ourselves out of ruts in order to find a better course – and the same should be said of our output at work.
It doesn’t always work, of course. I’ve experienced plenty of raised eyebrows over the years while trying something different or a bit left-field. But sometimes those odd ideas hit the mark perfectly, or at the very least they spark alternative approaches better aligned with what we are trying to achieve in the first place. What matters most is trying to change the norm; to shake things up. If nothing else, it makes life a little more interesting.
So what are you going to break today?