Think Outside the Rut by Jim Johnson

ice ruts

Here in Indiana, we are praying for an early Spring.  Winter has been rough this year.  My neighborhood is full of ice ruts making driving difficult and unsafe.  My wife even got stuck in one the other day requiring some good Samaritans to come to her rescue.

Ruts don’t get us where we need to go.

You’ve heard the expression “think outside the box”.  For me, a better way to say this is “think outside the ruts” because it’s in a rut where I get caught up, stuck, needing help.

Do you find yourself in a rut?  New ideas at work are hard to come by?  Your work seems blah.  You need a shot in the arm?  It’s time to break out of that rut.  But how?  Try these ideas:

Read

There are a lot of great resources available to us today that we didn’t have just a few years ago.  The amount of reading free reading material is enormous.  Check out the apps Flipboard and Zite.  You can select topics you want some new exposure to.  The apps are easy to use and are available on your smart phone and tablet.

Venture outside your expertise. Explore new worlds.  Are you in a traditional business?  Read about entrepreneurs.  Find out how they tackle obstacles, getting a product to market, how they deal with staffing issues.  Not tech-savvy?  Read what is happening in the high-tech world.  Learn.  Grow.  Become inquisitive.  READ.

Broaden your network

Do you spend most of your time during your work week with your colleagues?  It’s time to branch out and meet new folks.  Attend a Chamber event. There are many in my community.  I bet there are in yours.  How about going on a business call with your outside sales folks.  You can learn a lot about your department and company by doing this.

Are you on LinkedIn?  You can meet a lot of great people here and you will be exposed to even more great reading and insights.  I recently made a connection with a local business owner who was in the process of doing business with my company.   I had the opportunity to help smooth out some rough communication and misunderstanding in this process.  That wouldn’t have happened if I hadn’t broadened my own network.

Change your perspective.

When was the last time you looked at your business through the lens of your customers? It’s difficult to do.  But we can go for years thinking we are producing products customers want all the while they are slowing leaving our business and products for someone else who “gets them”.

Mystery shopping initiatives can help change your perspective.  Does your company collect and monitor customer feedback?  Pay attention to it!  Act upon it!  Let your customers know you appreciate their input!

Learn something new

Spend time with a colleague discovering what they do. You probably don’t know how what they do impacts your work (and neither do they).  You can learn so much more about your work and your company by doing this.  Ask a lot of questions.  Ask to see the reports they review.  Find more of the “story behind the numbers” while you’re with them.

Move

Getting out of rut demands motion.  Many times, you sit at your desk for hours (right?).  Get up and move.  Walk up and down the stairs (if you have them).  At my company, we built a walking path around our campus.  My CEO and I had our 1-on-1 walking this path multiple laps (when it was much warmer).  Moving can clear your mind.

Get out of your rut.  Get some exposure to new ideas, thoughts, and perspectives.  Your mind, department, and company will thank you for it!

try something new

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