Step Outside

One of the advantages of having had lots of different jobs in a wide range of industries is that you get to see that pretty much everyone gets bored with the limits and repetitions within in their own worlds.

No matter what you do, the conventional wisdom concerning your work will get stale. If you work in an office there are some phrases you’ve heard so many times you think you will puke if you hear them again. My last “real” job involved the phrase “get my arms around that” far too often.

Aside from tired language, every industry suffers from tired advice, too. The words used to issue the worn out instructions may vary, but for the most part, change in an industry happens slowly. Painfully slowly. Through generations, even.

Look at these statistics about web browser usage. Note how many people/companies are still using IE 6, which is so outdated that lots of sites will not even display correctly.  My daughter is finishing up her first semester in college and wondered aloud why one of her teachers requires her to print out a copy of her final PowerPoint presentation. A client of mine recently wrote an article about “thinking outside the box” that was well-received by his audience but would have been horribly boring to many other audiences.

Every industry clings to some antiquated processes and ideas and when someone comes along and innovates they are either praised or shamed – or both.

If you are steeped in the literature, training and language of your industry, how do you avoid saying and writing the same things everyone else is saying and writing?

If you are looking for a new way to approach your business, try taking a look at some industry completely unrelated to your own. I love reading blogs about social media and online marketing and newsletter writing, but often find it helpful to read about cooking, taking care of children, running restaurants, style and fashion, massage therapy, raising chickens or any of about a billion other topics.

Most small business owners face a similar set of problems and challenges, but the language used to talk about them varies by industry, and so do the methods of solving them. Six Sigma experts have traditionally worked in manufacturing, but are now being employed by hospitals. Although the industries are vastly different, both need effective, efficient processes to handle the flow of goods and people to increase productivity and keep costs down.

It takes a certain amount of creativity to apply the lessons learned in a different industry to problems you are facing in your own business, but then again, you need to be creative to solve problems anyway.

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