All organizations tend to maintain the status quo.
This is true whether the organization is a business, a family, a government agency, or a not-for-profit.
We’re comfortable with the status quo, even if we know it could be better, and often we will work vigorously to protect it. It’s just the way systems work.
One of the main tasks of a leader is to disrupt the status quo, to bring change. The problem is that often we don’t know how to do it.
So, we rely on what has worked before. If we’re in the position of a leader, something we have done in the past has worked and so we keep trying that again and again…until it doesn’t work anymore.
You know the adage – if the only tool you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail. If you have a go-to approach for problem-solving, you will be tempted to use it over and over again.
Until yesterday’s solution becomes today’s problem.
In our book, The Leadership Triangle, co-authored by Kevin Graham Ford and Ken Tucker, we make the case that there are three different types of leadership challenges, each of which require a different kind of leadership solution (what we call an Option).
The Strategic Option is the first type of response. A strategic challenge arises when something in the environment external to your organization has changed in a way that impacts the organization. Maybe your customers’ preferences or values have shifted. Maybe a technological advance has disrupted your industry. Maybe a competitor has innovated in a way that threatens your market share. Maybe something has shifted in the regulatory environment and your rules of engagement are now different.
Whatever the case, your internal status quo has been disrupted by a change in the external status quo and you must change in order to remain relevant.
How do you do that, as a leader?
We suggest that you gather your team (after you have gathered your wits!) and run through this series of questions designed to grapple with your strategic challenge and move toward a wise and timely use of the Strategic Option:
- What do we say yes to, that we should say no to?
- What does our customer really value?
- How are our competitors doing things differently than they used to?
- What new competitors have emerged?
- Who is our target audience, really?
- What workarounds have our frontline employees adopted that could teach us something?
- If we could create a niche for ourselves where we would be #1, what would that niche be?
- What legacy will future leaders say we left behind for them?
If you wrestle with these questions and their answers, you will be much better equipped to deal with external disruptions, disrupt the status quo, and make wise and winning strategic decisions.
To read much more about the Strategic Option, check out The Leadership Triangle on this page.
To learn more about how TAG’s team of experienced change leaders and status quo-disruptors can help your organization Discover its next best moves, click here.