The worst possible answer. The creativity crusher, the entrepreneurial spirit destroyer, the one that drives great employes to hit job boards. Runners'-up to this lame response are: "let me think about it", "we don't have it in the budget" and "who else thinks it's a good idea?"
"What you're saying is?"
"That we never missed payroll, the company is still growing and therefore we must be doing something right, right?"
"How about doing something better too?"
"Why try something new? If it ain't broke don't fix it."
"What if it does work? Our business could improve and grow."
"If something works, stick with it. That's what my Daddy always told me."
The "that's the way we've always done it" is the tell-tale sign of a culture that loves to hire "lazy, yes-men"; bodies floating in space, punch-in, punch-out, keep'em busy till they drop type of a place. I know, I used to work there.
If you allow this type of behavior modification to rule your work life, you will soon experience rapid shutdown of brain cells and an inability to perform even basic tasks; you've been programmed to be a robot. You'll go home with that empty feeling, another checkbox on the calendar, a day closer to the weekend or vacation.
Here's the thing: by not having the courage to stand up for creativity (and ultimately what is also in the best interests of customers and the company) you are perpetuating bad behaviors by your boss, your manager or both. However, if you reject this type of a response, you will short circuit the cycle that promotes business paralysis and stagnation.
One clever way to get over the hurdle is to offer yourself as the sacrificial lamb: ask for the opportunity to try something new and state that if it doesn't work it's on you. Chances are, in a company where employers and managers hate to be outsmarted, they will smile and approve your idea. The countdown until you slip on the banana peel has begun in their little unimaginative world.
You won't stumble; in a workplace environment like this, while on the surface everything is peachy perfect, anything new is going to be better because so much is broken under the delusion of perfection .
To condition your boss or manager to allow for change, you simply do the following:
Give him/her credit when you succeed, "it wouldn't have worked if you didn't approve it, thank you." Or, take full blame if you fall short, "it's entirely my fault, I came up with this awful idea."
Employees will jump at an opportunity to fail if you give them a chance, as small as it may be, to prove their worth.
When you study successful businesses you'll note that they got there by pushing their employees to take chances and experiment; get out of their comfort zone, dismiss failure and thrive on human creativity.
Yes, that's the way they have always done it and will continue to do it if they want to stay on top of their game.
Now, it's your turn.