Have you ever sat and watched the National Geographic Channel showing a programme about spawning salmon hopping and swimming upstream to reach their spawning grounds?
What makes the millions of salmon want to swim upstream, against the current?
Spawning salmon know that in order to ensure the survival of their species, they must fight to reach places where fewer predators lurk so that they may lay their legs and provide a better environment for them to develop and to eventually hatch into tiny salmon.
Although slightly less maternal, the concept of going against the current applies.
If you find yourself in a company where “we’ve been doing it the same way for years”, chances are most employees just follow without knowing the real reasons behind the process. In most of such cases, the practices themselves may already be obsolete.
When faced with such a situation, do not be afraid to ask the “Why” question, but be certain to express that you are asking with the intent to understand the objective(s) of the process.
The worst thing that could happen is that you find out your superiors are clueless about why they continue to do what they do, and you give them a chance to reflect on their own actions.
The best thing that could happen is that you become an agent of change and progress and you are seen to be driving efficiency and effectiveness. That more often than not, leads to calmer waters, lesser predators and a higher chance of survival; much like our friends the spawning salmons.
Either way, its a win-win.