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Friday, March 15, 2019

Lean Quote: Standing Still is Falling Behind

On Fridays I will post a Lean related Quote. Throughout our lifetimes many people touch our lives and leave us with words of wisdom. These can both be a source of new learning and also a point to pause and reflect upon lessons we have learned. Within Lean active learning is an important aspect on this journey because without learning we can not improve.

"There are many ways of going forward, but only one way of standing still." — Franklin D. Roosevelt

I have said this before, in a world that constantly moves forward, if we choose to stand still, we will eventually fall behind.

Organizations develop a status quo for many reasons. Those reasons range from leaders feeling pressured for time and the need to prioritize, all the way to a culture that has a “if it’s not broke, don’t fix it” mentality.

Status quo can be comfortable because it’s easy. It doesn’t require us to challenge ourselves or each other. It doesn’t require us to take risks or change what we’ve gotten so used to. Yet, over time, following the status quo will become uncomfortable. Individuals, teams, leaders, and companies will miss out on opportunities for growth, and stagnation becomes the mode of operation. This is when it’s time to challenge the way it’s been and think about how it could be.

Challenging (and changing) the status quo can be scary. It often requires courage and a willingness to go against the grain, while potentially butting heads with others who are less open to new ideas.

It's leadership’s responsibility to create the kind of culture where challenging the status quo is encouraged. Leaders need to have a forward-thinking mindset—a mindset that doesn’t settle for an attitude of the bare minimum and instead looks to their teams for insight on how things can be improved. The most successful leaders set out to support them with new values, policies, and ideas that are important to them.

Challenging the status quo is critical if we are to prosper in our businesses and set ourselves apart from the competition. The world of commerce is cruel, fast paced, and change is happening by the day and by the hour.

Simply put, challenging the status quo actually means challenging it. In business, it often isn’t even our competitors getting in our way, it is ourselves and our inability to face our fears and get out of our comfort zone.

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