As humans, we are really skilled at rationalizing things. We re-write history in our heads and re-frame events to fit the version we were hoping for. We don’t do it with any ill intentions, it’s just how our brain copes with the world. We want to succeed and sometimes the easy way to find success is to frame things in a way that feels like a win.
I think this is part of the reason that we all continue to do things in our lives that really aren’t working. Particularly in our work, we get stuck in routines and processes that someone else created long ago and handed down to us. Or, perhaps we created the process, but times have changed.
We become convinced that the things we do are working, if for no other reason than we don’t want to be wrong (and we all secretly hate change). So, we continue to run through the motions. Here’s a list of things examples where I’ve found myself or my organization doing this:
- Team meetings
- Performance appraisals
- Update meetings
- Training programs
- One-on-one meetings
- Hiring Models (what are we looking for in a new hire)
- Vision and Mission Statements
- Corporate Newsletters
The most effective question I’ve found for helping me identify and differentiate the things that are working from those that aren’t is this:
What evidence do I have that it’s working?
Simple, yet powerful question. The fact that we “think” or “feel like” something is working is completely irrelevant when it comes to business. If you own the company, you can do whatever you feel like, but everyone else needs to use a higher standard. So, look for evidence, proof in fact, that whatever you are doing is producing the intended results.
This takes some guts, because you are likely to find out that a lot of stuff you think is working isn’t. Or, you’ll be shocked to find how little evidence you really have of the effectiveness of the activities that consume so much of your time and energy.
When you start looking for evidence, you’ll start discovering ways to make things work better because you’ll be seeing the world more clearly–no more delusions. You’ll also discover some things you should just stop doing. All good things if you are committed to producing results.
Replace assumptions with evidence, then stand back and watch the results happen.