One-Year Rule

innovIn a recent conversation, I was reminded of a visit I made with an organization I was working with. We were contracted to work with their high potentials and part of the on-boarding process was to assess their business and cultural model. Upon arriving on their campus, my colleague and I got a tour of the impressive sprawl but what caught our attention was an operating mantra that they feverishly lived by. It is called the One Year Rule. Simply described, they frequently ask themselves the question: Is there anything we are doing today that we did exactly the same way a year ago?

If the answer was yes, they quite literally viewed that as the beginning of their demise and irrelevancy – a sign that they were not innovative enough and the competition was sure to capitalize on it. The question was never viewed as a personal threat, more of an organizational threat with mutual responsibility to address. As such, no one was felt threatened by the question or the subsequent changes. This organization continues to set an industry benchmark not just in innovation, but as a best place to work for.

This week, ask yourself and your team that question. The response “we’ve always done it this way” should not be acceptable if you desire innovation and want to be competitive in your business. This simple question and change process can substitute for huge consulting fees you may be dishing out.


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