Every so often I’ll encounter a client who is reluctant to change because they feel more comfortable with doing things the way they’ve always been done (despite hiring me to provide my expert opinion so they can revitalize their exhibiting efforts). It can be a challenge to help professionals with this mindset because they weren’t around when the original decision was made so they haven’t realized how their company’s situation has changed… or, even if it hasn’t changed, they can’t see past the “tradition” to understand that whatever they were doing before isn’t working as well as it could be now.
Perhaps you can relate. Has anyone ever tried to introduce a new methodology to your team? Are you and/or your colleagues reluctant to change? It’s okay, I understand – change can be scary, but how do you get through to them (or push past your own hesitancy) to achieve the results you had desired? Share your answers in the comments section below!
Anyway, whenever I encounter this situation, it reminds me of a story.
The story is called “The Pot Roast Story” and this is how it goes:
One night, a little girl named Sandy was helping her mom make their family’s dinner (pot roast). Being an inquisitive little girl and really enjoying the cooking process, Sandy asked her mom questions about the meat, the seasoning, and each step they completed along the way. Finally, as they were putting the pot roast in the oven, Sandy thought of one last question.
“Mommy, why do you cut the end off of the pot roast?” Sandy asked. “Because that’s the way my mother used to do it,” her mother replied. As they ate dinner that evening, Sandy’s mind started to wander; she couldn’t get her mother’s final answer out of her mind… “because” wasn’t enough to satisfy Sandy’s curiosity.
So, the next day, Sandy made a special call to her grandmother and she asked, “Grandma, I was making dinner with Mommy last night and I learned a lot; but I still don’t understand, why do you cut the end off of the pot roast?” Sandy’s grandmother responded just as Sandy’s mother had, saying, “Well, dear, when I make pot roast, I cut the end off because that’s the way my mother used to do it.”
At this point, Sandy still couldn’t understand the real reason, so she asked her mom if they could go to visit her great-grandmother across town. When they arrived at the nursing home, Sandy couldn’t wait to ask her great-grandmother about the pot roast. “Great-grandma, I’m trying to understand cooking. Can you tell me why you cut the end off of the pot roast?”
Sandy’s great-grandmother paused before answering quietly, “Little Sandy, the only reason I’d ever cut the end off of a perfectly good pot roast was if my pan was too small to hold the whole thing.” Interrupting the quiet moment, Sandy’s mother burst out laughing because it wasn’t until just then that she realized how much perfectly good pot roast had been wasted over the years for really no good reason at all.
Just like little Sandy and her family’s pot roasts, if you look closely at your trade show program, you are likely to find some behaviors that can only be justified by tradition. Whether it’s the specific trade shows you attend, the amount or type of literature you bring, the team members involved, or your booth design/activities, ensure that there is a real reason (that is both current and makes good business sense) before proceeding with these trade show traditions again. If you aren’t sure, take little Sandy’s lead and go to the source (or multiple sources) and then reevaluate their reasons according to your current goals and resources.
Feeling reluctant to change? Just think about all of the “perfectly good pot roast” (money, time, other resources, and potential results) you may have been wasting year after year; that should be motivation enough to reconsider your company’s current trade show traditions.