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Breaking habits

The loudspeaker at O’Hare Airport has been explaining the 3-1-1 liquids rule every 20 minutes, for 10 years, to people who are already past security and already know the rule.

This was probably a helpful announcement at one time, and maybe worth repeating.

But now they’re in a rut — doing it because they have always done it — for no particular reason.

All companies get in ruts. We develop habits that become disconnected from the reason they were created. At best, they waste time; at worst, they become a bureaucracy that kills the company.

How do you avoid it?

Create scheduled reviews of everything, every so often. As soon as a process is created, schedule a review and refresh for some time months or years down the road. It’s a healthy way to clean out the system.

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  1. Matt Haines June 26, 2012 at 1:40 pm #

    That’s good advice. For smaller companies and/or one person operations, it might be hard to get to see these outdated procedures because we are so close to the operation. It can be helpful to have an outside person review your procedures with a fresh eye. Not necessarily to the point of hiring a consultant; it could even just be a detailed discussion with a friend about your operations. It might even make sense to offer a swap with another small business owner and trade off.

  2. Thomas June 27, 2012 at 11:04 am #

    In my new book called Law of Sales i have “invented” a method to handle this type of problem. I call it “the expire date method”. Exactly as in a grocery store you should mark everything with an expire date. It works for all procedures and processes as well.

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