I recently re-watched Steve Jobs’ “Lost Interview” for the n-th time. Steve makes a comment which, every time I watch the interview, makes my ears prick up:
He tells a story of how, when they were two guys in a garage, they had complete control and insight into their manufacturing value chain and associated costs. And then, when Apple became a big company, his accountants couldn’t precisely tell him how much it costs to produce an Apple II. They used averages and delayed accounting to figure out the cost — often with a delay of several months. Steve mentions how this bothered him and he started to ask people why that is the case and why he can’t have accurate cost information in real time. The answer was: Because that’s the way it was always done.
I bet you money that this is true for yourself and your company as well. There are things in your organizations where nobody ever asked “Why are we doing this the way we’re doing it? And is there a better way to do it?”. I know for sure that this is true for me and every single company I am involved in.
Asking Why and figuring out how to do things better is often one of the most robust sources for building a competitive advantage.
Go. Ask Why. Make things better. You don’t need permission.
P.S. I would love to hear from you which topics you would like to see discussed in The Heretic. Many of you have sent me emails in the past — keep doing this. I love to chat with you. And if you want me to explore a specific topic in the future (or to be more precise: want to hear me rambling about it) add your topic and comments to the Google Doc here.