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Leadership Lessons: A 7 Phase Methodology – Phase 3 – Understand the Status Quo

Editor’s note: We will be showcasing each phase of Peter de Jager’s methodology in weekly posts. Click here for phase 1 and 2 and check back every Tuesday to read the next phase.

Creating something new, is always an act of destruction. When implementing change you replace the old status quo known to everyone, with a mere vision of a goal in the future. Having respect for the existing Status Quo, builds respect for you.

  • How long did it take to establish?

Some status quos have been around for only a few months, others for years. The older the status quo, the more likely it will be difficult to remove. The older a status quo, the more it’s been proven as being valid. It’s easier to buy a new car, than it is to buy a new home. It’s not because of the smaller financial cost, it’s because of the larger emotional investment.

  • What investment/sacrifice did people make to achieve it?

How much have people invested in this status quo? Did they build it on their own time? Was it something that ‘cost’ them personally? The more they’ve invested in the past, the more difficult it will be to move them forward.

  • How many people subscribe to it?

Is this a corporate-wide ‘status quo’ or is it something that only a handful of people share? Is it a part of the corporate culture or just a local way of doing things? One of the measures of the size of a change is how many people will be affected by it.

  • What Values does it encompass?

If the status quo is also a part of personal values, or beliefs, then it may pose additional challenges. Example: Getting rid of the corporate Christmas turkey may be more difficult than changing the accounting system, because the turkey connects with ideas of gift giving, Christmas, bonuses and friendship. Culture is supposedly something difficult to identify, if you examine an organization in light of relationships, then culture becomes more visible. It also becomes visible of course… when you inadvertently try to change it.

  • What mythologies support it?

Each corporation re-enforces its beliefs/status quo through stories. e.g.. Nordstroms and the late night delivery of a customer’s parcel through snow reinforces the concept of a certain level of customer service. If your goal was to change customer service levels, then that particular story would have to be addressed somehow. Even if only because the staff would remember and look to that story for support of the status quo.

  • Who are the Heroes & Heroines?

Who are the people in the history of the corporation who have become major influencers, even if they are no longer around? What stories are connected to them? What were their beliefs regarding change?

© 2015 Peter de Jager – Reprinted with Permission