My wife, Kama, and a couple of our daughters were starting to work on a puzzle this past weekend. While they were slaving away, I was sitting on the couch reading. Normally, when any of us start a puzzle, we pull out all the edge pieces and put the edges together first. However, this time I heard Kama ask the question, “Why do we have to start with the edge?”.
So, this time, they didn’t start with the edge. Now, this particular puzzle had a lot of detail in the middle of the picture which made it easy to build it in sections. I’m not sure all puzzles would work out better by not starting with the edge. But the point was to ask the question “why” and be willing to consider trying something different.
They asked the question and put the puzzle together a different way than they normally do. In fact, they finished a thousand piece puzzle in 2 1/2 hours–which is much faster than we normally get one that size put together.
What are you doing in your business that maybe could be done differently? What are you doing that just doesn’t have to be done the way you’re currently doing it? No, we’re not looking to change just to change. But what could you change that would actually improve things or that maybe doesn’t even need to be done?
Often times, we don’t really know why we do something a certain way.
I’m reminded of the story of the young woman who would always cut her ham a certain way when she cooked it in the oven. One day, her mom was visiting and saw her cut it up and put it in the oven. She asked her daughter why she cut it up that way. Her daughter’s response was she’d seen her (mom) always cut it that way while she was growing up. Her mom laughed, “Sweetie, I only did that because I didn’t have a pan that would fit the whole thing. Your pan is big enough. You don’t need to cut it like that.
An amusing little story that helps us realize we might not even know why we do things the way we do. Maybe it’s a tradition. Maybe it’s a habit. Maybe that’s the only way we’ve seen it done. Yet innovation doesn’t come from doing things the same way we have always done it. Innovation comes from asking questions that start with words like why, how come, and does it have to.
Maybe it’s time you asked yourself some questions! Maybe, just maybe, you will discover a great way to improve an area in your business.
Photo credit: I know. I know. I should have taken a picture of them working on the puzzle. But since I didn’t, thanks for the puzzle photo, Ryoji Iwata.