Posts Tagged ‘status quo’

The Unwanted State Transition

Humor me for a moment by assuming that this absurdly simplistic state transition diagram accurately models the behavior of any given large institution:

Culture STM

In your experience, which of the following transitions have you observed occurring most frequently at your institution?

management xitions

Deviation From The Norm

August 2, 2015 2 comments

Without deviation from the norm, progress is not possible – Frank Zappa

The further a new idea deviates from the norm, the more resistance there will be to its adoption – and the deviance/resistance relationship is ominously nonlinear:

Deviation From The Norm

Since it’s human nature to prefer the familiar over the comfortable, passionate purveyors of new ideas that have proven to work for themselves and their orgs better take heed: the way you promote a deviant idea matters.

The more radical your idea, the more graceful you must be in your advocacy in order for the idea to have any chance of infiltrating the mainstream. If both your idea and your approach are radically extreme, then you’ll likely be perceived as a frontal assault idiot by not only those few in power, but those many on the front lines who would otherwise become your allies.


Even if you eschew a militant stance and adopt a graceful approach toward getting your deviant idea widely accepted, the odds are still stacked against you because of the powerful “familiar over comfortable” force field that keeps the status quo in place.



Initiative Initiation

October 25, 2009 Leave a comment

Assume that the graph below describes the rise and fall of a hypothetical CCH (Command and Control Hierarchical) business. During the party time phase of increasing profits (whoo hoo!), the CCH corpocrats in charge pat themselves on the back, stuff their pockets, and slowly inflate their heads with bravado and delusions of infallibility.

Profits Curve

In order to extend the increasing profit trajectory, an undetectable status quo preserving mindset slowly but surely kicks in. Hell, if it ain’t broke, don’t touch the damn thang. Since what the CCH (so-called) leadership is doing is working, any individual or group from within or without the cathedral walls who tries to deviate significantly from the norm is swiftly “dealt with” by the corpocrats in charge. Everthing needs to get approved by a gauntlet of “important” people. However, while the shackles are being tightened and the ability to scale for success is being snuffed, the external environment keeps changing relentlessly in accordance with the second law of thermodynamics. Profit starts eroding and tension starts ratcheting upwards. Out of fear of annihilation, the cuffs are tightened further and the death dive has begun. Bummer.

During the free fall to obscurity, the now brain-dead and immobile corpocrats in charge start “taking aggressive action” to stem the flow of red ink. Platitudes and Matt Foley-like motivational speeches are foisted upon the DICs (Dweebs In the Cellar) in frantic attempts to self-medicate away the pain of stasis and failure. Initiatives with cute and inspiring names are started but never finished (because it takes real hands-on leadership, sweat, and work to follow through). As corposclerosis accelerates, silver-bullet-bearing consultants are brought in and the frequency of initiative initiation increases. Calls for accountability of “them” pervade the corpocracy from the top down and vice versa.


After being hammered by pleas to “improve performance” and being pounded by the endless tsunamis of hollow initiatives, the DICs disconnect and distance themselves from the lunacy being doled out by the omnipotent dudes in the politboro. Since the DICs  expect the corpocrats to effect the “turnaround” and the corpocrats expect the DICs to strap on their Nikes and “just do it”, no one takes ownership and nothing of substance changes. As you might surmise, it’s a Shakespearian tragedy with no happy ending. Bummer squared.

Leaderless CCHs deserve what they get; a fearful, disconnected workforce and a roller coaster ride to oblivion.

Lighten Up Francis

Targeted Ire

October 24, 2009 1 comment

What we need is more people to lose their temper in public. – Watts Wacker

Aargh Matey!

When you’re dissatisified with a stagnant, risk averse, and status-quo-loving bureaucratic group, how do you blow off steam without alienating or intimidating those few people who help you do your job better and those people you are committed to helping do their jobs better? One approach, which doesn’t work but is incredibly hard to abandon , is “targeted ire“.

Targeted Ire

When I perceive smug, fat headed executives and managers (of all types) talking up a storm, sucking more out of the org than they put in, and doing nothing of substance to improve everyone’s performance, it’s hard for me to “act professionally” (lol!) and keep my freakin’ mouth shut. In the back of my tortured mind, I often hear a faint and fearful voice saying “STFU you idiot“. Sadly, I find it incredibly hard, if not impossible, to follow that advice. Besides the ever present “fear of excommunication“, I think the fact that I don’t aspire to become a self-important, meeting-loving, and game-playing corpocrat drives my self-destructive behavior. Bummer……. or not?

“Never apologize for showing feeling. When you do so, you apologize for the truth.” – Benjamin Disraeli

So, how do you express your dissatisfaction with a stationary and fading organization when the world is crying out for movement and emergence? Do you do anything about it? Do you assume that you‘re powerless, ignore your passion, and force yourself to STFU? Do you put on “the mask of political correctness” such that your potentially sacred-cow-busting ideas and thoughts get obscured by all the sugar that you coat them with?  Are you paralyzed by fear? What do you advise?

Endless Loop

October 14, 2009 Leave a comment

Are you a player in an endless loop like this:

Endless Loop

If so, are you the pontiff? A cardinal? A bishop? A “mass”? If you ARE a player in this endless loop, do you aspire to play a different role, and why? Do you want to be the selector and promulgator of the next “j” proclamation? Do you fancy the bling that the cardinals, bishops, and pontiff adorn themselves in? Do you want to change the content of one or more of the loop steps, especially number 9?

Status Quo STD

Stagnation Or Growth?

April 29, 2009 Leave a comment


What type of system do you work in, day in and  day out? Do you work for scared managers or courageous leaders?

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