Insights

Don’t sit there, it’s time to be a Maverick

Maverick (mav·er·ick) (noun).  An unorthodox or independent-minded person.

The whole world loves a maverick and whole world wants the maverick to achieve something nobler than simple rebellion.
  – Kevin Patterson

The ECS team helps many businesses who find themselves “stuck”.  Companies who have hit a wall and just can’t get to the next level of their business (whether they can’t grow, aren’t seeing expected profit potential, etc.) reach out to us.  We are invited in to meet with these companies and look “under the hood” to determine how to help them find the best path forward.

As part of the process, we get vetted – which we completely understand (I’d check us out too!).  The first question we almost always hear is, “have you done any work in our industry?”

Let’s stop right here and think about this question.  For these companies we meet with, the old ways of doing business clearly haven’t worked. Yet, these same companies seem to want someone that’s going to reinforce that (old, non-working) way of thinking.  Does that make sense to you??

(And by the way – after 29 industries, we’ve probably been in yours or one very similar. But I digress.)

I can, however, answer the question of why this way of thinking is prevalent. It is because we have the idea of “following the rules” reinforced in us from a young age.  Stand in a straight line, do your homework – and NEVER ask why or question authority.  And these “rules” follows us right into business and into our careers.

Once we do start working with a new client, our favorite question is “Why?” Why DO you to it that way?

And the answer we get time and time again – almost without fail! – is: “That’s the way we’ve always done it”.

Mavericks are Essential to your Business

Let me introduce the idea of a maverick. Your business needs at least one.  If you don’t have someone questioning what you’re doing, if you don’t have someone trying out new things and who is at least to a certain degree unorthodox – you’re probably not growing.

Some of today’s biggest and fastest growing companies come about because they have mavericks driving the business.  Others build cultures around what I’ll coin “maverick-ism”.

Charles Koch, CEO of Koch Industries (and brands like Georgia-Pacific) has built a company around challenging the status quo and encouraging employees to be mavericks.  He incents his employees to push their bosses to make things better.  The result? Koch Industries went from a regional player in the 1970s to the second-largest privately held company in the world today. Maverick-ism drove this company’s growth.

How do you become a maverick?

Be vulnerable – Ideas pop in your head all day long …. I know they sure do in mine!  Does that mean I come up with solid gold ideas all the time?  My team will confirm that I do not.

But the difference between mavericks and others – mavericks same them out loud. Others don’t.  I encourage you to voice your ideas, whether seemingly crazy or not – nothing ventured, nothing gained.

And remember, one idea leads to another and then another – next thing you know, we’re on to something BRILLIANT!

Challenge the status quo – if you discover the answer to the question, “why do we do it that way?” is: “that’s the way we’ve always done it”, then it’s time to question the situation.  Again, this takes a large amount of effort and isn’t easy.  But pushing and pursuing better solutions start here.

Be ready to struggle – By nature, our brains are programmed to save energy and fall into routines (check out Daniel Kahneman’s book, Thinking Fast and Slow).

If you don’t make an effort to push yourself and others around you, you’ll find it easier to just go back to the old ways of doing it.  Don’t fall victim to inertia.

Don’t let the day-to-day get in the way – I’ve been there. We’ve all been there. You spend the bulk of your day reacting to reports, managing issues and putting out fires. I know what you’re thinking – “I just don’t have the time”.  But I’m calling BS on you right now.  I know it’s just easier to do work that way – we all wear “busy” as a badge of honor.

So, stop running around, getting nothing done.  Not sure how? Read Essentialism by Greg McKeown to get started. This will get you thinking and get you on the right track.

If you want the same results you’ve always gotten and are happy with the status quo – then ignore everything that I’ve said.  But if you think it’s time to do better – than it’s time to be a maverick!

Have some great maverick stories?  Or have a different point of view?  I’d like to hear it, contact me and let’s chat – bmorrow@thinkempirical.com or 610-310-6707.