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What’s Stupid Around Here?

Change has been happening in every aspect of our life whether we like it or not, and most don’t like it. Not only is it happening, but it’s required for survival. Doing things the way we’ve always done them because they’ve worked is no longer a sustainable strategy.

In a recent Harvard Business Review article, they suggest having a team brainstorming and asking this seemingly harsh question:

What’s stupid around here?

Asking that question is designed to get input from everyone on some of those legacies or “we’ve always done it this way” type issues and get rid of them. Asking the question, however, is only half the exercise. The other half is doing something about the answers you get. This begs another question, how good are you and your company at change?

Last month, Harvard Business Review asked that exact question in their article entitled, How Good Is Your Company at Change? Authors David Michels and Kevin Murphy identified four archetypes or ways companies respond to the need for change:

In search of focus - This archetype describes 37% of the companies reviewed. Their strength is their energy. They’re bee hives of activity and have had many successes.

Stuck and skeptical - Of the companies reviewed, 20% fit this archetype. They have good ideas and a history of success, but too much of their change gets stuck at the local level.

Aligned but constrained - This archetype applies to 24% of the companies reviewed. They all share important strengths: Their employees work well as a unit, have locked arms and are headed in the same direction.

Struggling to keep up - Among the companies reviewed, 19% fit this archetype. Companies in this category need to get better at anticipating what’s around the corner and changing their plans accordingly. To catalyze this shift, they must first take stock. Is their strategic direction still the right one? If not, they need to reprioritize and reallocate resources.

These archetypes not only apply to business but also our ability to adapt to changes in our personal lives. Identifying where you are within these four types will be helpful in creating meaningful change.

For managers, a great place to start is by asking the question, “What’s stupid around here?” The key is not to be defensive or combative. Just listen, and do so carefully. This is also a great question to ask your best customers as you strive to provide a frictionless experience with your company.

If you choose to ask the question, we would love to hear about some of the things you uncovered. Please email me at Jeff. We never share your feedback without your permission, so your secrets are safe with us.

Jeff Schmidt is the SVP of Professional Development. You can reach him at You can also connect with him on Twitter and LinkedIn.

Source: Jeff Schmidt, RAB