“But we’ve always done things this way and it’s always worked.” Now THAT’S the definition of the status-quo. And you know about Einstein’s definition of insanity, paraphrased as doing the same things the same way and expecting different results.
I always ask my clients how the status-quo has been treating them. And they don’t know how to answer. You may want to ask your clients and prospects the same question. And yourself.
Because most of the time, you don’t know you are stuck in this rut. You are surrounded by the churning and burning of business development and design activity. Your project pipeline appears full, but is it full of “stuck” projects rather than new projects?
What if you were a start-up? What if you had no customers, no past, only the present and the future in terms of attracting investors, vendor-partners, creating processes and best practices?
What if you were given a blank slate and asked to create your own status-quo for the future? What would you do first?
And I’m not talking about the “if I could do it all over again” mentality. That coulda-shoulda-woulda logic is worthless. And non-productive.
I’m talking about what if you could step out of your current context, your current shoes, and start a new company. From scratch.
Would you just copy from your existing experience, creating a patchwork of processes and, potentially, work-arounds? Keep in mind that any existing corporate entity, even under the best of circumstances, is dedicated to preserving their own status-quo. Which includes working around a situation rather than committing time, money and personnel towards implementing new systems, policies, practices, procedures. You know, change. Folks will do anything but utilize a start-up mentality.
Would you be able to articulate your vision, capabilities and deliverables to potential investors and vendor-partners? And I am not talking about some sort of rehearsed “pitch”, including PowerPoints and financials. While those presentations are a necessary part of the start-up process, most entrepreneurs are ill-equipped to stray outside the lines of their well-oiled, well-rehearsed spiel. Which is the crux of the matter. Walking beyond the rehearsed talk. How articulate are you about what you are passionate about? Because that’s what’s involved in having a start-up mentality.
Would you believe in yourself? Because self-belief is the hardest thing to achieve. Yet, once achieved, it is the easiest to articulate to those investors, vendor-partners and potential customers. Many entrepreneurs are engaged in the start-up process because they have exited, or been forced to exit, a prior, undesirable situation. Many have had a dream they’ve not had the opportunity to address. Some entrepreneurs are straight out of college or grad school or wherever. Overcoming your self-doubt (you know, overcoming your own objections to yourself) is the heart of the matter. Your passion and Self belief can be infectious.
For those of you gainfully and satisfactorily employed, think about whether or not you or your company is in a rut. Any company certainly is stuck maintaining their status-quo way of doing things. Shaking things up doesn’t have to mean housecleaning, heads rolling, layoffs or firings. Being in a rut sometimes simply boils down to being stuck creatively. Having distilled everything down to what feels like a formula for response. The status-quo can even be boring. Easy.
Snap out of it!
At your next project meeting, ask everyone whether they would solve the problem the same way – if you were a start-up company? You know: What Would A Start-Up Do? (WWASUD)
Then compare their responses to the way you currently are engaged in problem solving. There may be a tweak here and there that brings out a bit more in the solution. And gradually, people will begin a project from “start up mentality” mode rather than bringing in that perspective mid-way though the project.
Changing the way we see things and solve problems isn’t an easy task. Start-ups have it easy. And at some point in our careers, we’ve all been there. No status quo.
Now that’s something to think about at your next project kick-off meeting.
Babette N. Ten Haken, Founder & President of Sales Aerobics for Engineers®, LLC, brings entrepreneurial mojo and business- and revenue-producing collaboration and communication tools to small and mid-sized businesses and startups. She was named one of the Top 50 Sales & Marketing Influencers 2013. Her book, Do YOU Mean Business? focuses on technical / non-technical collaboration strategies and tools.
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