What's the dumbest thing we do around here?

In early March 2016, I went to a breakfast hosted by Russell Kennedy's Women's Network with keynote speaker, Ricky Nowak. The topic was dear to my heart - Audacious Leadership - and I went with great anticipation.  After all, tackling Big, Hairy, Audacious, Goals (BHAGs) is part and parcel of becoming an Ambition Revolutionary!

Now I'm no different to you. My time is precious. I'm busy enough so am quite selective when it comes to attending networking events - just as you should be.  So my rationale is that I either need to connect with 10 new people who are at my level or more senior, or I need to get one idea that will help me create substantive change.

And in this instance it was the one BIG idea.

What's the dumbest thing?


Ricky told the story of a new Deloitte CEO who, about 10 years ago when he first started in the organisation, had a problem with bureaucracy and red tape which obviously impact on productivity. 

So he posed a question to the entire staff "What's the dumbest thing we do around here?"  and (as you might imagine) was overwhelmed by the email response.

In fact, according to Deloitte in a 2014 Productivity report:

Rules eat up $250 billion a year in profit and productivity

I liked the question so much that I applied it to myself on the spot!  

And as a result I have already implemented two of the great ideas in my own practice here at The Ambition Revolution that have already enabled me to use my time more efficiently, PLUS (possibly more importantly), made things easier for my clients and readers.

How might you apply this to your work or your career?

1. Try it with your team at work on a quarterly basis - and importantly be open to what the team suggests - and don't shoot the messenger no matter how close you are to the initial process.  You want to eliminate black holes such as:

  • People ringing time and time again to chase why there bill hasn't been paid yet - because the accounts department doesn't communicate clearly about what to expect or because you still have an antiquated manual invoice approval process so the invoice sits in your in-tray unapproved til the end of the month,
  • Companies who don't accept AMEX yet operate in an environment when lots of customers have AMEX cards and could be paying outstanding invoices immediately,
  • Approval by managers for small taxi fares or small amounts for meeting catering,
  • The firm that makes staff do an ergonomic checklist when moving desks, then introduces ‘hot desking',
  • A rotating door on change management consultants who come in, impose a new process, only to have it ditched within six months and a new consultant and process launched - yet again.

You name it, you've probably experienced it, and unless you ask the question you probably won't see what's possible right under your eyes. 

2. Try it with yourself and your productivity or career - and don't sensor.  Ask yourself: "What's the dumbest thing I do that's holding me back?" 

  • Going to networking events that don't serve you any longer,
  • Hanging out with people who don't build you up any more, or worse, who drag you down,
  • Attending every meeting in your calendar because it's the "right thing to do" when in fact the smart thing to do would be to selectively decline and/or delegate,
  • Attending meetings that don't have clear agendas or expected outcomes circulated in advance,
  • Driving 35 mins each way (plus paying $10+ worth of tolls) to get your hair cut or coloured because you have loyalty to your hair stylist/colourist of many years - when the reality is someone closer might be able to do a similar, or possibly even a better, job.

Create a career that counts

Remember - when it comes to creating a career that counts, and making a bigger difference, nothing is too silly, stupid or sacred. 

You need ask yourself rigorous questions on a regular basis. There are just three provisos when it comes to Stepping Up, Speaking Out and Taking Charge -  in the (paraphrased) words of Carol Dweck, Mindset:

  • You need to be prepared to be uncomfortable,
  • You need to be prepared to make mistakes, and
  • You need to be prepared to do the work.

So what ideas do you have for changing things around here?

What dumb systems, processes and policies have you come across that you could share (without naming and shaming of course) in the box below? I'm looking forward to reading (and sharing) your suggestions!

Vive la révolution! #ambitionrevolution

  • I am the creator of The Ambition Revolution – the science and art of amping smart and savvy.
  • I mentor busy professionals to ensure they remain strategic, agile and focused on the bigger game.
  • I also work with organisations who are trying to increase the profile of women in leadership, but struggling to do so


Feel like your leadership journey has stalled? Email ablesing@amandablesing.com to set up a 30 min one on one to learn more. Helping clients shift from feeling invisible to becoming invincible in just 12 months