Albu On Strategy

Business Killer: Accepting the Status Quo

The status quo is defined as the current or existing state of affairs.  To maintain the status quo is to keep things the way they are.  Isn’t that the easier way?  Wouldn’t it be nice if we all could just keep things the way they are and not change?

Unfortunately, the world does not work that way.  Competitors change tactics, customers change buyers, governments change policies, strikes stop production and occasionally natural disasters cause havoc.  As a result, the status quo is not enough, and organizations need to learn to adapt and change.   This brings us to the opposite of status quo, or the anti-status quo.  Literally it means to refuse to compromise with the status quo.  To experience the anti-status quo is to make a conscious decision to reject staying the same for the good of the business.

Listed below are five reasons why businesses get stuck in the status quo.  One thing is certain; these five business killers will stand in your way from making the changes you need to win in today’s business environment. 

Lack of clear direction:

If people do not know or understand the organization’s strategy, they will not know how they can help make change happen.  Make clear your strategy and goals to everyone in the organization.  Show your employees how they can align their work to the strategy, and they will become energized and engaged in challenging the status quo.

A focus only on planning and not on execution:

Many organizations spend more time and energy planning strategy and very little time translating those plans to specific action.  Without investing time in strategy execution, the tendency of most organizations is to relapse to the status quo.  Document strategic initiatives and assign activities to specific employees with measurable outcomes to get the results you want.

Distaste for risk:

Unfortunately change often happens quickly when it becomes urgent.  Don’t wait until you are in a difficult situation. Move out of the status quo slump.  Change needs to happen well before the crisis occurs.

Excusing mediocre performance:

Do not excuse sub-par performance.  Help people by establishing a system of open communication top down and bottom up.  Top performers will rise up when given the opportunity, while underperformers will become quite visible as well. 

Reluctance to hold people accountable:

Without accountability, the status quo will creep in and smother any attempt at change.  Explain to employees what is expected of them and establish a good reward system that is linked to expected results.

Change is often times difficult to accept.  It can be frightening and threatening to some because of its uncertainty and the risks it might entail.  As a result, the status quo can easily become more appealing to many.  Yet it is more dangerous keeping things the way they are, because in today’s business environment the status quo is not enough. 

What are your experiences dealing with the status quo and the challenges of driving change in your organization?  What have you done to overcome these challenges? 

Posted in Business Killers, Leadership, Newsletter, Strategy Development.