The status quo is just an innovation brought about by a transition that people have forgotten.
~Managing Transitions, William & Susan Bridges
Why does the status quo become the status quo?
I think that’s a question we need to wrestle with from time to time. It’s not something we tend to think about. It’s not even something that’s intentional, but we all end up in the status quo eventually.
I’m not saying this is necessarily a bad thing. There’s a lot to be said about stability and consistency. But there comes a time when stability and consistency transition into “that’s the way we’ve always done it”. Doing something because it has always been done that way is not a good reason.
There should always be a reason behind what we do in life. And, even for the things that have become routine and status quo, there was. The problem comes when we forget the reason, and just do the thing. Why is that a problem?
Because circumstances change over time, and the reason why we do something is dependent on the circumstances at the time. It’s a significant factor. We are, to a certain extent, shaped by our environment, and our response to that environment.
Let’s think about this in organizational terms. Whatever organization you lead: business, non-profit, church, etc — whatever it is, you probably have a certain goal or vision for that organization. You probably also have things that you do over and over again to make the organization run more smoothly. In a sense, they become automated.
Here’s what happens, though. The automated stuff becomes status quo. We forget the why, and just go through the motions. Maybe, at the time we started doing it, it was really cutting edge and innovative. But then it became routine, and as the environment changed, it became obsolete… but we kept doing it anyway. Do you see how that happens?
The biggest challenge is staying on top of things as the environment changes. In the end, what our organizations need more than anything else is flexibility. As the environment, as the market, changes, we have to be able to adapt as well. The status quo got us to where we are, but it’s not going to get us where we need to go. Change is a catalyst for growth.
So, keep the main goal in front of you, but allow the means of getting there to change. This kind of flexibility will serve you in the long term, and you’ll not get into the ruts created by maintaining the status quo.