This is how we have always done it!


Is trying to bring motivation, or even just change, to an organization like putting new wine in an old wineskin? The old wine-skin has become brittle and set in place. It had done its job for years with no problem, but new wine hasn’t fermented yet and as it expands it will split the old container. The Bible used this example to teach about dealing with change in Mark 2:22.  

Of course, were really talking about people not wine-skins. People can seem brittle and set in place. The problem is the perception of what is happening. The roadblock is often just the attitude that “this is the way we have always done this”.

When a person has done something the same way for many years they can seem brittle or inflexible. Several years ago, I knew some managers at a distribution warehouse where space was limited. Jim was the warehouse manager and he had a new boss who was expecting things that he was not used to.
Changing things that had always been done one way for years became an obstacle for Jim. The last straw for Jim was an item that had been bought weekly for years 50 cases at a time. The order size was changed to 100 cases. Jim claimed he had no notice of the change and he quit his job that he had spent 35 years working for.  

Change itself was not foreign to the environment for this company that had grown a great deal over the years, but Jim was surprised and mad about recent changes. He complained loudly to his manager telling him that 50 cases were enough and that was what “they had always done”. Jim then quit the job that took him 35 years to work up to.  

Over the 35 years Jim worked for this company had expanded its warehouse and size many times over. He had faced increase reserve levels on many inventory items. When he said that he was mad because 100 cases were brought in instead of the 50 that had always been brought in he wasn’t telling the whole story. Jim couldn’t handle the changes in how decisions were made and felt he could see the ultimate outcome leaving him on the sidelines.  He was upset about how he felt.

The poet Maya Angelou said, “I've learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” Jim didn’t feel good with his new manager and that reality was far more important to Jim than the challenges of warehouse changes.