When I ask people why we still have daylight savings time, most shrug their shoulders and say “I don’t know. That’s the way it’s always been done”. I hear this a lot as an innovation keynote speaker. Many times systems are put into place for a particular reason, and even when that reason is no longer needed, the systems stay in place with no thought of changing it.
The idea of Daylight Savings Time was first created by New Zealand scientist George Vernon Hudson, who suggested setting clocks forward 2 hours in October and 2 hours back in March. But the idea never caught on, until Germany introduced it in 1916 to save fuel for the war effort by minimizing artificial lighting.
Before the industrial revolution when we were an agrarian society it made sense to want to wake up early with the sunrise and get more done in the fields. Why do we still hold on to that when we’re no longer an agrarian society?
Change just for change sake may not be a smart way to go. There’s usually a good, logical reason why a system was put there in the first place. But we can always challenge systems to see if they need to be changed or updated.
So many things can change your business, like technology, competition, govt. regulations, economy, customer tastes, or even the weather. Regardless of why things have been done in the past, it’s a good idea to occasionally evaluate what you’re doing to see if you need to update it.
Most people resist change for a number of different reasons. As an innovation speaker and trainer I’m in a position to be the outsider looking in. I don’t work for the company so I’m able to see things from a different angle. I haven’t been exposed to the old “that’s the way it’s always been done” systems.
The first question I ask when people say that is “Why?” Many times people don’t know or remember why something is being done a certain way. This is a good time to start asking questions. “Does this still work for us?” “Is there a better way to do it?”
There are plenty of reasons people and companies stay stuck in systems. Sometimes those systems genuinely work well. But other times the systems stay in place because someone benefits from them and doesn’t want them changed.
It takes courage to challenge the old systems and stand up to the people who say “that’s the way it’s always been done.” But if you want to be more innovative, it’s the first challenge you need to face.