May 22, 2017

Disrupting the Status Quo


If my recent conversations are any indication, a lot of people find disrupting the status quo increasingly appealing. Their motivations range from simply wanting to create meaningful change to positioning themselves in their organizations as unafraid to go bold or big.

Listening to these folks from very different organizations talk about disrupting the status quo, I noticed a potentially limiting pattern: most focused almost exclusively on the programmatic or policy change itself. What they see themselves disrupting is the established way of doing things or a program or policy that has outlived its usefulness ... the status quo.

What they also are disrupting, and what in many cases will be the real resistance to their efforts, is the status of individuals associated with whatever they hope to change. In short, they are playing with the pecking order of who has what power and prestige in their organizations, something folks generally do not want to lose.

Successfully disrupting the status quo requires effectively attending to the relationship dynamics for those whose status will be disrupted in addition to articulating the merits of the tangible change proposed. Like salt and pepper they go hand in hand.