No matter what industry you are in, sooner or later you will likely come up against the status quo. The status quo is safe and comfortable; going beyond that can seem risky. After all, organizations don’t want to fall flat and give their competitors a chance to get ahead.
However, leaders who are afraid to challenge the status quo tend to be left behind. The most successful and truly thriving businesses are those that don’t occasionally challenge the status quo, but challenge it regularly.
More than ever, businesses need to embrace progressive and innovative thinking in all aspects of running the organization, from how they deliver products and services to how they manage contracts with customers and partners.
1. Successful companies still improve the right processes
A process does not need to be broken to be challenged. Even when the status quo is working well, consideration should be given to how changes can be made to improve operational efficiency.
Business leaders should prioritize the processes that are most crucial to their operations, especially those that are used frequently or take up a lot of their team’s time and effort. Strategies like delegation and automation, or simply adopting new tools that allow your teams to work more efficiently, can dramatically improve productivity.
Successful companies regularly reassess their processes – the most progressive ones participating in regular benchmarking forums such as those provided by APQC. Marisa Brown leads APQC’s Supply Chain Research and Benchmarking Program, which involves more than 500 APQC member organizations who participate in regular benchmarking events to assess their processes against to best practices.
“The best companies are constantly reassessing their current status quo. And the best don’t just seek out a ‘best in class’ benchmark, but rather strive to continually raise the bar for their industries,” says Brown.
2. Innovative thinking exploits unresolved pain points
Companies that are willing to challenge the conventional way of doing things can completely revolutionize their industry. Just look at how ride-sharing services like Uber and Lyft traditional taxi services disruptedor how Amazon took e-commerce from an afterthought to a cornerstone of every major retailer’s strategy.
Almost every industry has untapped potential to challenge the status quo. Yoav Vilner, CEO of Walnutexplains how his company is changing the way organizations use software demos.
“Since the birth of SaaS, organizations have offered generic “one size fits all” demos to their prospects. But too often these generic demos were “one size fits all”. We wanted to create a platform that would allow customers to create and manage customizable and interactive software demos. »
Vilner’s advice? “Leaders today need to look beyond what other people are doing to find new ideas that help you stand out from the crowd.” One way to do this is to look for opportunities to make products or services more convenient or user-friendly, more affordable, or simply more accessible so your brand can cope with the status quo.
3. Challenging the status quo reduces inefficiencies
While there’s a lot to be said for making a “good” process even better, it’s a fact that many businesses have a variety of inefficiencies that prevent them from reaching their full potential. A willingness to challenge the status quo makes an organization more capable of directly confronting the obstacles that are holding the business back.
A great tip for getting past the initial hurdles and finding the root cause is the simple but well-known “Ask why five times” method. When teams work together to ask “why” five times, they often unlock and solve real systemic issues that can lead to increased productivity, sales, and other vital improvements in places where it’s not always so obvious. .
For example, when Dell did this, they discovered perverse incentives in the contracts that prevented their reverse logistics provider from investing in continuous improvement and innovation. The result? Moving to a win-win sourcing business model and removing perverse contractual incentives with their supplier reduced Dell’s reverse logistics cost structure by 50% in just two years.
Or consider this Marketing Sherpa case study, which highlights how a financial institution recognized that its digital mortgage application sales funnel was experiencing length friction because its marketing email led to a landing page before directing prospects to its solution search tool. Although landing pages are common practice in many industries, they decided to eliminate the landing page and rework the email copy. Their conversion rate increased by 181%.
4. Challenging the status quo empowers employees
Business leaders do not have a monopoly on good ideas. These ideas can come from team members at all levels of the company, but they will only be willing to share their ideas if the company culture encourages it.
Toyota did this since 1951 with its creative idea suggestion system. It was specifically presented as an ongoing, widespread effort that was meant to last, unlike other “ideas festivals” of the time that came and went quickly.
The first documents sent when the program was introduced made it clear that ideas could come from anyone, that the company would pay for good ideas and work quickly to implement them. Workers also did not need to get permission from a manager to submit their ideas.
By clearly explaining why, encouraging workers to share their ideas, and continuing the program, Toyota has established a foundation for success in getting innovative ideas from its employees.
Successful companies actively involve team members in sharing their insights. This helps employees engage more actively and feel that their contribution matters to the organization as a whole.
According to a recent Gartner analysis revealed“Employees want a more human job value proposition: they want employers to recognize their worth and provide value to them on a human level. Monetary compensation is important for survival, but deeper relationships, acumen community and purpose-driven work are essential to thrive.This is the value that employees expect from their employer.
Empowering and engaging employees to challenge the status quo will help them stay engaged and feel truly valued, which will dramatically boost retention efforts. In that sense, the ideas they will generate are a bonus.
Building a better future for your brand
Not all aspects of the status quo need to be changed. Sometimes a practice will become an industry standard because it’s simply the best way to get things done. However, forward-thinking business leaders should always be prepared to challenge the status quo.
Simply put, change must start with the will to change. Even though change efforts consist of a series of small changes, they can have a significant long-term impact, helping your business thrive for years to come.