Last November I was scrolling through my LinkedIn feed and I came across a quote which really struck a chord with me. The person who shared the quote noted that one of the most dangerous things that you can ever hear within a business is:

“We’ve always done it this way” (Grace Hopper 1906-1992)

Six little words that can have such a detrimental impact on innovation and creativity within a business. It also limits the culture of freedom and the ability to be able to take risks.

Working in a small functional business means that we do rely on documentation and procedures. By saying the quote is dangerous is not to say that those older procedures and ways of doing things did not serve us at that time. The real danger is not being able to acknowledge when those procedures no longer serve us and in particular, if we are following someone else’s procedure, we get caught up in ‘doing the doing’ and not seeing the potential to make things even better.

In some cases, continuing to do what you have always done is perfectly reasonable, no change is required; what is important is having the ability to speak up when something does not feel right or does not appear to be working anymore, whether it relates to a procedure, a relationship, a strategy etc.

I can see this within two main areas at SK Chase. Firstly over the past year or so we have seen several new team members take up positions within the business. As part of handover they are taught existing procedures by the outgoing function heads. At this stage it is perfectly reasonable to do things according to the way we are taught. However, what we have found is that procedures which suited old function heads do not necessarily fit with the new function heads and the energy they want to bring to their new functions. A fresh pair of eyes can have a wonderful impact on procedures and the very being of a function. New function heads bring new life to procedures.

As Head of Finance I held two finance workshops over 2014/2015 and they helped bring new life not only to my own finance procedures, but overall to our budgeting procedure. Function heads within the business all saw areas in which they could improve. As a team we worked together to look at old procedures and bring new life in to them and also to create new procedures. If we had just sat back and agreed to continue doing things the way they had always been done we would not be where we are today.

Secondly we are in an industry that is forever changing. New software trends emerge every day and recently we have been speaking a lot about innovation within SK Chase. We don’t want to look at the next thing all the time, we want to be looking at the thing after the next thing. Likewise if we always tried to do what our competitors were doing, where would be the innovation in that? We would simply be copying other providers….

What is unique about that? We pride ourselves on being specialists in the luxury gift voucher market with over 10 years’ experience in the industry, not only when it comes to software but also customer service. We listen to what our customers have to say and also keep an eye on what is going on within the wider industry.

After a period of platform we are now actively developing new features on our system; we released Promotional Codes last August, and developed a cancel and reissue button for easy ‘one click’ reissue of vouchers lost in the post. In March we released Mobile Web and we are currently working on a new consumer site! Things are busy within SK Chase and the team are extremely energised by making things better for our customers and helping them increase their gift voucher sales. Of course there will always be things that we have to do to the system to keep things up to date, however what really energises us is making things even better!

Since November I have had a new outlook on the way I treat things, not only in a business sense, but also in a personal space, and if I ever hear myself uttering the words “that’s the way we have always done it” I know it is time for me to take space and take a look at exactly what I mean by that.