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The Queen's Speech: Lessons for business on questioning tradition

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The State Opening of Parliament on Tuesday 11 May 2021 marks the formal start of the parliamentary year and the Queen's Speech sets out the government’s agenda for the new parliamentary session.  It’s a tradition that can be traced back as far as the 16th century.  So, why do we still do it? 

Having spent some time considering what the Queen had said, I paused and reflected on the ceremony that surrounds this occasion and the method of delivery.   Although this year’s event was conducted in a covid secure way, I pondered just how far removed the ‘pomp and ceremony’ was from the zoom business briefings most of us are now used to.  Whilst there is a lot to be said for tradition, I do wonder just how many businesses operate in certain and set ways, just because it’s the way things have always been done.

I love using a good story to illustrate a point and a favourite of mine surrounds another tradition, the roast dinner.  In this little fable, a person is cooking a roast dinner and just before they put the beef in the oven, they cut a 2-inch chunk off the end and discard it. 

On being asked why they did this, they explained that this was what they were taught to do by their parents.  On exploring the reason for the discarded beef further with the parents, the father explained that his mother had also taught him to cut a chunk off and discard it. 

Speaking to his elderly mother and asking her why the chunk of meat was discarded, she explained that she cut the end off, as she only had a small roasting tin and oven!  In the age of larger ovens, think of all the unnecessary waste the process created over the years!

The crux of this article is simple – some processes and traditions may be worthy of respect and continuation; however, businesses should not idly follow a process as ‘that’s the way it has always been done’.  We should not be frightened of questioning why we do things in order to develop and progress. 

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