I heard it the other day: “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” On the surface, it sounds very logical. As the leader of any organization, however, you must recognize it is as the mantra of those that are content, complacent and stagnant. When you hear it, you should be drawn to it like a bee to honey. A little smile should appear on your face. For me, it is like waiving a red cape in front of a bull. Charge! Why? Because at the source of every such comment resides a system or process that presents the opportunity to innovate and reinvigorate your business. It won’t come without resistance, risk and potential failure, but the alternative of status quo will result in atrophy and extinction.
In our business, we recently took the plunge into the world of Google Apps. For the uninformed, Google Apps consists of a platform for business communication and collaborate; email, calendar, instant messaging, word processing, spreadsheets, presentations, video, and intranet (internal) websites. Google Apps is analogous to the Microsoft Office, Communications, and Sharepoint products. There is one huge difference; Microsoft created the entire set of applications from a computer-centric perspective, whereas Google created their entire platform from a web-centric perspective. In the Microsoft paradigm, you are undeniably more tied to your computer, passing countless documents and files around to one another. In the Google paradigm, you use any computer, or browser enabled device, and access everything on the Google servers. What is the difference? It boils down to ease of collaboration and access to information. In the Google world, since you have many people accessing one single version of any document in the Google cloud, you create the ability to work simultaneous and collaboratively in the document, thereby making the process of collaborating a few seconds more efficient. A few seconds doesn’t seem like much until you multiply it by dozens of documents a day, and dozens of users, and hundreds of days a year, and so on.
The challenge is getting an organization that is completely content with one email platform, and that also doesn’t understand the collaborative possibilites because they have yet to be exposed to them, to embrace the change necessary to innovate and move forward. In many ways, the subtle benefits of collaboration and accessibility cannot be quantified and communicated in advance. It requires innovation, vision, faith and support to move the organization. It requires somebody determined to not accept the status quo. It requires somebody willing to accept responsibility for managing the entire process until the innovation benefits are realized. It requires strong leadership and commitment to progress. As a leader in any organization, if you are not willing to accept that responsibility, or fully support those who do, you are sentencing your business to a state of sluggishness and deterioration. In our particular situation, our group has adapted very quickly to the new platform; displaying a clear sense of curiosity and desire to learn. We are now just beginning to explore the collaborative and accessibility capabilities that initially drove the desire to innovate, and I believe we will find countless ways to streamline our processes.
So next time you hear the battle cry of ‘status quo’, hopefully you are compelled to investigate the source and lead your company forward. If you don’t encourage new ideas, if you don’t make occasional failures acceptable as learning experiences, if you allow people to continue to operate as they always have, you are ushering in the death of innovation and the decline of your organization. Simply put, you are not leading … you are stagnating.