How to Challenge the Status QuoFor many years, Microsoft ignored the Internet.

Google ignored social media.

Beverage companies ignored bottled water.

Record labels ignored digital media.

And, suddenly, all were forced to sit up and take note.

In each of these cases, it's impossible to blame one CEO or one product manager. Each of the companies, or industries, were so mired in their own "this is the way things have always been done" they were all to blame.

It is pretty easy to see how each of these examples were blinded.

Microsoft was making personal computers not attached to anything but a person's desk. Google looked at social networks, such as MySpace, and could see how it couldn't be they ignored them. Beverage companies thought a product had to be made. The record labels made their money from producing albums. And they all missed huge opportunities.

Seven Questions to Challenge the Status Quo

If you want to challenge the way you've always done things so you don't end up missing opportunities like these examples, ask yourself the following questions:

What do you know about your customers?

What do you think your customers want/need?

What do you know about your industry?

What do you know about your competitors?

What trends are happening within the industry that you've chosen to ignore?

What are some things your competitors are doing that you've chosen to ignore?

What if the things you know to be true aren't true at all?

It's easy to go to work every day, do things the way you've always done them, then go home to your family each night. Perhaps your business will even continue to grow.

Or you can choose the hard way: You can challenge your thinking, once a quarter. Ask your leadership team to work with you and challenge their thinking. Discover one diamond in the rough each quarter and vow to work on it. Soon you will be your industry's Facebook or iTunes.

How do you challenge the status quo?