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We've Always Done It That Way
By: Don McLean
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The famous term that all innovators either love or hate to hear depending on their outlook is "We've always done it that way." This is used to explain everything from where a brand advertises, to promotions that are run, internal company processes, and just about anything else you can think of.

At one time in America, more respect was given to authority. The idea of questioning an authoritative figure was simply out of the question. You followed orders. In today's day and age there is still a level of respect but this answer is no longer an acceptable response. In many instances you will find that this process was in place for so long that nobody can quite explain it to you.

So, as soon as you hear the words "We've always done it that way," it is your time to shine. You as the innovator, the brand ambassador, the pillar of change, needs to stand up and make change in this part of the business. How do I do that, you ask? Here is how:

  1. Brainstorm ideas for change: Jumping to a snap judgment and saying it is a flat-out horrible way to do things from the start will put a wall between you and decision makers. Contrary to popular belief, it is okay to start on a side project and bring it to your boss. They want to see that entrepreneurial spirit shine through. As soon as you hear that dreadful response, you need to start brainstorming. It does not take long, just open your mind and get some ideas written down.
  2. Research those ideas: Once you brainstorm it is not proper to spew out all of your ideas to senior management and let them decide. Figure out which is the best idea first and go with that. Run the best idea past a few people in confidence to gain their input. Figure out every possible angle for your idea and stand behind it.
  3. Bring solutions: Now it is time to present to senior management. You took the time to brainstorm and research. You have a well thought-out idea. You are ready, almost. Make sure your presentation is solid first. The last thing you want to do is let a good idea die. Practicing the presentation a few times first will take away any inconsistencies and give you a much more solid base. After you practice, then you are ready to change the way things have always been done.

Changing the way things have always been done at a company is never easy. There will be lots of pushback if you don't take the proper steps forward. These three steps outlined above will give you a solid base to improve your workplace. What are some things at your work that never change but should? Start brainstorming now!

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About the Author
Don McLean, MBA is an account supervisor at Airfoil Group, an independent marketing and public relations firm serving tech companies and innovation-centric brands with offices in Detroit, New York and Silicon Valley. Follow Don on twitter at@mclean_don.  
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