If it ain’t broke…………

There are times when you sit down to write a blog when you have a clear idea of what you are going to talk or rant about. Inspiration comes in many different forms and at the oddest times, but just occasionally, all you’ve got is a screen staring back at you.

The same thing is often true in the world of work. You can look at your desk and sit there, thinking “Where do I start” or “What should I do first”, but often you end up thinking “I’ll go and make a brew” or “I’ll just have a quick peek at Facebook”. The problem is that life is actually just a never ending cycle of doing the same things, and the people who succeed best are those who are comfortable with, and embrace, routine.

Routine is what makes us call those clients we don’t want to, what makes us ensure our desk is clear at the end of every week (let’s not get too ahead of ourselves here) and what means we don’t spend the entire weekend worrying that we haven’t done something we should have done. Routine is what gives us the best gardens and the cleanest houses, lack of routine gives us bored children and broken sleep.

Sometimes, though, it is difficult to see the benefit of routine; difficult that is until you take a step back and realise that what you have been missing is routine. Work is not meant to be exciting or off the cuff – if it was, we’d all be Steve Backshall. But even Steve Backshall has routine, and it is the very aspect of planning and preparation that allow him to appear to have a life full of thrills and adventure. It’s a recipe for a very short, if notorious, TV career if you are going to jump into a crocodile infested river without first understanding the situation and what you are likely to face.

I was discussing the role of highly paid interim consultants the other day, those people who suddenly arrive in your business, charge you an arm and a leg to tell you what you should be doing and how you should be doing it. What was most entertaining about this discussion was the fact that the individuals in question had no direct knowledge of the business sectors into which they had been thrust, and therefore could not bring any great expertise to bear. In fact, they were disarmingly honest about the fact that all they were doing was making sure that people were doing the jobs that they should be doing. And getting handsomely paid for the privilege.

Not every company has money to burn like that, but there are actually very few companies that need that sort of advice, and there is even an argument to say that if your company does need it, there’s not much hope. The point is that much of business is about routine – your finance department has a monthly routine, your sales department will have a routine for chasing up leads or enquiries, your manufacturing team has a routine whereby your products are made and therefore work properly. You do not run a business by being a maverick, you run it by deciding what you are going to do, formulating a plan to achieve that end and sticking to it. Adjust it by all means if new opportunities present themselves, but don’t change just for the sake of it – does anyone remember when PizzaHut changed their name to PastaHut because they were selling more pasta than pizza?

And there you have it. The routine of sitting down every Friday morning and writing a blog has produced a blog on the merits of routine. If you are good at something and it produces the right result more often than not, don’t go looking for a different way of doing it, a way that is probably alien to your personality or key drivers. And above all, don’t be told to do it by someone who doesn’t understand you, your business or your market.

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