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“We’ve always done it this way”

Many of us have social media friends who flood our Facebook news feed and Twitter timeline with inspirational quotes. This typhoon of inspiration usually leaves me uninspired and annoyed.

But I did recently stumble upon a quote that stopped me in my tracks: The most dangerous phrase in the language is ‘we’ve always done it this way.’

The quote is attributed to Grace Hopper (1906 – 1992), an American computer scientist and United States Navy rear admiral. Hopper delivers a simple, yet poignant point that can be applied to the adoption and use of technology in live entertainment organizations of all sizes.

Do you use the same ticketing software because it’s the only one you’ve ever used in your career?  Do you require your customers to put tickets, merchandise and donations in three separate shopping carts because your predecessor set it up that way? Do you use roll tickets and operate as a ‘cash only’ business in 2021 because that’s how your organization did business in 2001?

Continuing to do things you’ve “always done” is appropriate in some cases, but not merely because it’s safe and predictable. Stagnant business practices led to the demise of Blockbuster. Kodak, a brand synonymous with film, has spent billions (with a B!) on failed attempts to right its ship because its team failed to innovate.

You owe it to yourself and your organization to investigate changes that can improve your business.  Instead of echoing the old company line, create a new one: “We used to do it that way. We do it better now.” Your customers and bottom line will thank you.

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