the most hated four-letter word: “status quo.”

Do not enter signBoy, am i terrible at “the math.”

Too often these two words are combined in debate/discussion/some other “d-word” to be a literal buzzkill to creativity. We speak about “get action” – well this thing goes the other way and “get brick wall to the forehead.”  And here is the worst part about this naughty phrase:

We are all at fault and responsible for it…. yes, you too over there on your laptop shaking your head.

Many of us talk a great game and use words like “innovation” and “idea exchange” and “paradigm shift” when describe ourselves, our vision, or even our organizations. But here’s what happens: nothing. or barely nothing. Life kicks back in, reality shines its light upon us like a security guard walking a dark hallway. we say some great things… and then we stop and go back to the status quo.

Funny enough, we don’ t even mean to do it. Most of us truly want to innovate or exchange ideas. It is just when we snap back into our rhythm, those opposing forces are embedded in our day-to-day; and that always seems to gum up the works to launch something truly new.  You have seen this. You go to a membership organization meeting (like an elks lodge or rotary luncheon). A dynamic speaker or community leader stands up front and begins to dazzle your sense of possibility. She amazes you by challenge the “what is” and envisions a “what can be” and you feel the creative meter getting full… you are ready to make that impact, you are ready to shift gears…

Then the rubber chicken arrives, you notice the time, and head out of Conference Room A to get back to the office because you need to sit in on that development meeting – you know, the one where no one comes prepared to do anything, and no one has anything to say worth the price of admission. Business As Usual.

Men_at_Work_band_album

Remember, they won “Best New Artist” … and then fell off the Earth.

Yep, status quo just jumped up and bit ya again.

And when I say we are all at fault, I mean all of us…. with very few exceptions. It. Just. Happens.

But why? Why does it happen. (Here’s where I tick off some friends.)

Fear. You are afraid of going it alone. Innovation requires that someone/something goes it alone for some portion of time. It may be seconds, it may be years. But there is always a constant: a set time frame where you might be out on the edge by your lonesome. And that’s scary That’s unsafe. That’s unprotected.

Cowardly. Understandable, but cowardly.

Status quo allows for people to stay in the herd, fly straight, and hope that others come to the scene to build momentum so that you can come along for the ride. Status quo protects folks by allowing for awful phrases like “we’ll see how this plays out” or “let’s take the temperature of the room first”  and the greatest kick-me-below-the-belt-before-saying-this-to-me-ever-again phrase “but we’ve always done it this way” before an action is taken. Status quo banks on your hesitancy. Thrives on it.

Now you’re saying: Risk can’t be a constant thing. Stability and familiarity are good things, aren’t they?

Yes…however, when we are representing ourselves as innovators and change agents, then we must start acting like them. Convening “committees” and organizing talks to inspire are good, but it’s in the next steps – that’s where the leaders lead. That’s the sweet spot. That’s where we “get action.”

I speak for a living and connect with organizations, nonprofits, business leaders, community activists, and government officials. All come from strong places of wanting to do wonderful things. I never question someone’s intent or where their hearts are on issues surrounding community and economic development. But we need to “get action” – too many “meetings”, not enough “meet ups with sleeves up.”

we_have_always_done_it_this_wayAnd P.S… No saint here. I am just to blame in this hypocrisy. I need to step out and keep a-steppin’ more and more. We at Connect The Dots Movement say “we believe innovation begins by kicking the ass of intimidation.

Welp, Mr. “Status Quo”…. I think you and me need to step outside, pal…

~DK