We all have an enormous amount to learn from the way things are done in industries other than our own. Yet often we are blinded by the misconception that our industry is unique - like no other.
This blindness is extended further with the false belief that within our industry, our organisation is a one-of-a-kind - like no other.
It is hard to understand the origin of these beliefs.
To believe our own circumstances have evolved so much that all the issues and problems are specific to us, is perhaps both naïve and arrogant at the same time.
It is naïve because it reveals a fundamental misunderstanding about what happens in all organisations.
Challenges like engaging employees behind a common purpose, looking for operational improvements, building customer loyalty, managing cash flow and instigating innovation are universal.
The perception that your organisation is “special” in comparison to others is where the sense of arrogance appears.
Believing you have a special place in the organisational landscape can leave you isolated and introspective. It may lead you to force yourself to find every solution for yourself.
Rather than seeing your issues and problems as unique, a better strategy might be to see your solutions as unique.
By combining the best thinking from inside your organisation with the best thinking from outside, you have an opportunity to create innovative solutions that can be applied to the circumstances facing your organisation at this moment in time.
Not only do other organisations within your industry have a wealth of experiences, both positive and negative, from which you can learn, but the organisations from other industries may also have something to offer.
Imagine a small retailer walking through a large department store and seeing how they display their goods, their pricing models and the tactics of their sales staff.
The same retailer could then be in the foyer of a large government department and notice how they have set up the workspace to cope with large numbers of people.
Could the retailer then bring these learnings back to their own business, to re-stock the display cabinets and organise the rush of customers during the peak Christmas sales?
One more small step in the next 24 hours
As well as being naturally curious in everyday life, adopt a more disciplined plan to approach organisations within and outside your industry.
Try to meet with a manager from another organisation once a month. Don’t worry that there is no direct alignment with your own organisation.
You’ll be pleasantly surprised how much you can both learn and how much you can blend and adapt to improve your own team and organisation.
Don’t be concerned that the organisation will reject your request to meet with them.
Unless you are a direct competitor, most managers are flattered to know you think they have something of value which you could learn from. Plus you can offer to return the favour and show them over your own organisation.
What impact could this action have on your leadership success?
How likely is it you could implement this action successfully?