Bus and Motor Coach Library

"If You Do What You've Always Done, You'll Get What You've Always Got"

Author – Brian Niddery (2004)

This is one of those phrases that on the surface may be amusing and perhaps even provincial, but nonetheless it holds a great truth in the business world. It points out in a very succinct way that one's expectations should be no greater than the effort that one puts forth.

I came across this as a quote by Greg Hammond of Hammond Coach Lines, Bracebridge, Ontario, in his State of the Industry address on behalf of Motor Coach Canada.  When I asked his permission to use it, he told me that he got it from Brian Crow, the president of MCC, who said he heard it from someone else.  Well you get the picture - I suspect that it is probably one of those quotes that have been making the rounds since our forefathers first began to settle the land. 

And of those first settlers, there was probably some who just kept doing the same thing over and over again, simply because that's the way they always did it, and couldn't figure out why they weren't making any progress.  Then there were others who tried out new ideas and took a few risks.  Many of these ideas likely didn't pan out; however, here and there an idea would prove to be beneficial.  The important thing was that each new idea that did work resulted in some measure of progress.

Progress in fact is the sum and distillation of many ideas that have worked, and even more that didn't.  Progress is a series of small steps - almost incidental in nature, rather than any single miraculous giant step. I should imagine that it was the settler who thought of a better way to pull a tree stump, or move a rock; or it could have been a more effective way to plant seed so as to improve a harvest. This collective sum of ideas in time becomes a very sophisticated body of knowledge within an industry, whether it is settlers first taming the land, the manufacture of a new and better widget, or the transportation of people. 

Come to think about it, probably not a lot has changed over time.  Instead of clearing tree stumps and planting crops, in the bus industry it becomes a better way to improve a maintenance procedure, reduce the cost of an item, or in identifying a new source of revenue.  The basics remain the same - whether a settler in the eighteenth century or a fleet operator in the year 2004.  It takes a lot of new ideas, innovation, and a certain amount of risk-taking to move forward, and to better oneself.  Now as then, some are willing to try new ideas and take risks, while others are not.  

"If You Do What You have Always Done, You'll Get What You have Always Got" though it might be a rather homespun phrase, it is a timeless one that does indeed hold great truth.