The Most Dangerous Phrase in the English Language

Just think about all of the change that has happened over the last let’s say… 10 years. Let’s go even further and talk about things that we love that didn’t exist or were in their infancy. There is a huge list but some easy ones are smartphones (iPhone turns 10 this year), Lyft/Uber, Hulu/Netflix/YouTube (all in early stages), FACEBOOK/Twitter/Snapchat, self driving cars, etc. We have advanced farther in the last 10 years than the rest of human history.

Think about that.

For a certain age group which I have written about in the past, our existence as we know it has literally been one huge technological jump to the next and our ability to latch onto those changes and make them part of how we go about our day to day lives has in a lot of ways defined our generation. Nothing about the way things are today is permanent and I think for the most part we are okay with that.

My bosses 9 year old son said “it’s kind of a bummer that by the time I can get my license, I may not need to know how to drive.”

Now think about that!

It’s bananas.

Bananas

A few weeks ago I saw this post where there was a picture of a wall which had a quote that read:

“The most dangerous phrase in the English language is ‘That’s the way we’ve always done it'”.

And I thought that was great. We know that in our world change is constantly happening but for some it can be tough for what I can really narrow down to one of three reasons.

1) People don’t want to change.

To me, this is the infuriating one. To deal with these people you can either just help them with a task and move on or just try to continuously wear them down. Or I suppose you could force change but that can create other cultural impacts that might be tough to deal with.

2) People don’t think about changing how they do things.

3) They simply don’t know that they can change how they do things.

I can work with these last two groups. Getting to have conversations about making people’s lives better, is why I keep going into work. That and my mortgage.

So I took that quote and sent it to some people on my team and I told them that this should be our motivation. We need to be asking those that come to us why we do a process or create a metric or analyze our data the way we do.

*I understand that I can seem overzealous sometimes about these things I talk about and I understand that not everything requires change or can be changed so we don’t press it on things like accounting and federal regulations, but it never hurts to ask about how results are recognized and how we can make it easier to get to those end points.

It’s fun to see something you have created gain traction. In my opinion, it’s 1,000X more fun when someone you have taught builds things that blow people’s minds. 

Story time. There is a person I work with named Shanalie (LinkedIn currently under construction). Before the adoption of Alteryx and Power BI she was just a really good user of Microsoft Excel and a long time Knight employee that knows how things work in the back office (Billing, AR/AP, etc.). Currently, she is finishing up a series of reporting tools that are essentially going to transform how our credit management department does their day to day operations, replacing legacy tools and outdated methods of managing invoices. It’s insane.

The process has definitely been interesting. When she started this project, the task was to just build a visual tool to give us an idea of past due balances, but when meeting with team members it became apparent that there were so many more holes to fill. What’s cool about the Alteryx/Power BI/Tableau pairing is that with a little creativity and drive, mixed with a need, the businesses willingness to adopt and demand more is crazy cool. When you add that to a culture that thirsts for more knowledge about how the business runs and where we can create efficiency, the ability to help drive people from saying “That’s the way we have always done it.” to “How can we be better?” is one of the most important qualities in someone wanting to change the game.

It would be impossible for this little endeavor at Knight to have any sort of real impact without people like Shana and I am fortunate to be working with/for about 6 or 7 other people that share that mindset. It’s infectious and if this culture doesn’t in some part exist in your workplace, it’s very apparent. To those that are in some part intrinsically driven to see things the way they could be and push that way, instead of just taking things the way they are it can be draining on our soul and if will leave these employees asking why they are sticking around.

If you don’t have that culture and want to start pushing people to want to push change, I would implore that you reach out. Let’s talk about embracing change and making the world a better place.

If you are still with me, thank you for reading. I want to remind everyone that March is Women’s History Month here in the U.S. and it’s been a killer 30 days seeing how the people I am connected to in social media are pushing women in STEM programs! One of the women who inspires me to put my “thoughts to paper” is Ann Jackson @AnnUJackson. She is currently one of the leaders of the Phoenix Tableau User Group and consistently creates awesome posts about how she is helping drive a deeper understanding of data with the use of visual tools and a little creative know how. She also is helping to drive the “Women in Data” effort in Phoenix and if you have any questions about how to help push this concept, reach out to her and she would be glad to chat! (I didn’t ask her but I am sure she would be)

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