Status Quo is a wonderful thing. For those pundits who need a definition for everything, let me define status quo as the result of an act (more like an art) of preventing anything from making forward progress of any kind – if, inadvertently, things move backward, it could be treated as an added bonus.
The degree of difficulty in maintaining status quo is inversely proportional to the size of the organization. Further, in large organizations it is next to impossible to ascertain with any level of confidence that anything has changed or not – whether it is the number of meetings that you have to attend (endure), the number of such meetings that result in any tangible outcome or the number of times you have to clarify (or categorize) an item on your expense report.
For the average mid level manager (and at other levels too), status quo is the gold standard, the pursuit of which tends to be relentless. Take a look at the deft maneuvering by the seasoned professional in the following conversation:
Karen (Chief Operating Officer): Thank you all for coming to this meeting at such a short notice. We have selected a new expense management system that will enable tracking of various expenses by categories, by departments and more. This will help us…….. yes, Tim, you have a question?
Tim (Manager, Administration): Is this SATGH 1010, KUSNK 201 certified?
Karen: I am not sure what those acronyms are but this product is being used by the majority of Fortune 500 companies. So, Mary, I would like you to come up with a plan for speedy implementation.
Mary (Head of Information Systems): Yes, Karen. Sounds interesting. We should be able to…….
Tim: But the risks and costs of introducing high tech systems in our organization may be formidable. You will all remember the disaster when we tried to quickly automate the process for cafeteria menu management 10 years ago – people had to go without chicken sandwiches for 2 full days.
Karen (getting irritated): Tim, what are you implying here – that we should not change from a 20-year old, paper based system that is obsolete?
Tim: No, Karen. I only want to recommend that we should be very careful in selecting and implementing any new system. We should initiate a full training program for all our employees to be trained in the use of a computer mouse as well as the correct use of their fingers on touch screens. This obviously could take a few years to accomplish. And then we should have parallel runs for the new system for a period of …….
Karen (barely able to control herself): OK, Mary could you get with Tim and come up with a plan that is workable. Let us meet again in 3 months.
Tim is back in his cabin, satisfied at having succeeded in preventing another risky move to make things better in the organization.