Challenging the Status Quo – why standing still is not an option!

Endaba Group

Standing still in today’s fast paced, technologically advanced world is a risky place to be, yet there still seems to be a resistance to change and challenging the status quo.

If you’re standing still – someone, somewhere will be figuring out how to challenge you; how to provide what you do for less and provide it better than you. The impact of the business status quo internally will also lead to a stagnant culture that makes it hard to attract and keep top talent.

At Endaba, ‘challenge’ is one of our core values. It drives us to continually challenge outdated practices and lead the way to ensure the continued evolution of leaders – both internally and externally. We challenge ourselves and each other daily to have the courage of our convictions and always be the best we can be.

So why do business feel threatened by challenging themselves and their employees to think differently, creatively and innovatively – even when they know they need to – to stay ahead?

To help examine the context of challenging the status quo within businesses, we need to review both cultural contextual and personal perspectives.

For example, many Asian cultures in which we operate, find the concept of challenging authority an alien concept and one which is certainly not encouraged. It is deemed confrontational and at times disrespectful. This clearly sets out a different range of parameters to challenging the status quo in Western cultures.

 

That said, even progressive ‘Western’ businesses who encourage and embrace challenge as a way of moving processes and ideas forward, need clear guidance to avoid careless handling of such challenges to avoid them being taken personally and not delivering the best outcome for the business.   It is perhaps the motives and intent behind the challenge that we need to focus on in order to ensure that personal agendas do not override business objectives. From experience, we know that you need both courage and empathy in equal measure when making an effective challenge.

 

Below are 3 key tips for successfully challenging the status quo:

  1. Ensure transparency of motives and agenda before launching a challenge.

 

  1. Clearly explain the reasons for the challenge and the outcome and benefits that are desired and required.

 

  1. Be aware of your cultural context and ensure the challenge approach is culturally acceptable from a company and geographical perspective.

 

We find that ‘challenge’ is a word that is readily used in business as people relish the idea of a challenge so long as it does not directly or negatively affect them in any way; yet fear of staying the same is one of the greatest businesses challenges that we face today. Challenging the status quo isn’t easy, but then neither is worrying about what will happen if you don’t. At least challenging the status quo (if approached appropriately) puts you in the driver’s seat!