That’s Not How We Do It Around Here

Do you know Seth Godin? His blog is on my “must-read” list.

As a Godin fan, I came upon this post published by Seth earlier this month.

The entire post is very short, so I’d like to share it with you:

“That’s not the way we do things around here”

“Please don’t underestimate how powerful this sentence is.

When you say this to a colleague, a new hire, a student or a freelancer, you’ve established a powerful norm, one that they will be hesitant to challenge.

This might be exactly what you were hoping for, but if your goal is to encourage innovation, you blew it.”

I don’t have a Wikipedia page like Seth (yet!). I haven’t published a dozen books in more than a dozen languages. But, I’d like to throw in my two cents, what I’ve noticed over the years from working with business clients and developing close relationships with them.

I do see what he’s saying. You don’t want to crush innovation. You must be open to new ideas.

By the same token, you need to be conscientious that your people, be it a colleague or new hire or freelancer, are clearly aligned in performance and personality with your brand and culture. If that means having to drop the “how we do things around here” line or something like it, so be it.

As the leader in an organization, you need to be perfectly crystal clear on your brand. You need to live that brand. Brands are not something you can just “do” half-way. You need to “be” them.

I’m a firm believer that if your brand is just that solid, by the very nature of the organizational culture, any individuals that don’t belong will “naturally” be disposed of.  Said individual won’t be happy. He or she just won’t fit. 

This way of thinking is hardly an innovation-killer. In fact, if such alignment exists, you can create a culture where the right individuals feel like they can bring their ideas to you because they trust you enough and are confident enough in themselves and their place in the organization to do so. In this way, innovation is cultivated in an organic fashion.

So don’t confuse being strong in your identity as an organization with being closed off to anything new. If you’re strong in your identity, new ideas that actually work for your unique organization will follow.

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