The Consequences of the Status Quo


The Consequences of the Status Quo

I think the consequences of the status quo come in two flavors. First, maintaining the status quo in business can be anathema. It means no change, everything remains the same. This can be horrific when applied to how businesses grow and prosper. We need fresh ideas, we need new thoughts, we need pivoting when necessary.

Second is the status quo as it relates to the individual. If someone is comfortable in their life, who am I to change it. As long as it doesn’t affect others, let them alone.

Today we hear that the folks in Florida “got what they deserved” because they built their cities where hurricanes happen. I guess my answer to this is, “Why do you care?” What business is it of yours where I live, what I do, as long as it doesn’t involve others. If I elect to live on the San Andreas Fault and expect “the big one”, why should you care. If you elect to live in cities that are fraught with crime and homelessness, that’s your business.

Some people live in climes that have storms every year. Flooding takes out homes and businesses every year, yet they rebuild in the same place. Is it possible they like it there. It is their home. They thrive on it.

In Martin Cruz Smith’s great detective story Gorky Park, Moscow police detective, Arkady Renko, ends up in the US to solve the crime. Other American detectives offer to help him get citizenship here. After all, when he returns to Russia he will face censure by his superiors, plus live in a totalitarian country not to mention the horrendous weather in Moscow. He responds that he will go home. Russia is his home, his Rodina, his homeland. It is where he lives, and where he will die. I may not understand his choices, but I do understand his desires. His status quo.

If our country, our economy, our businesses continue to grow, we need change. We need to look ‘status quo’ straight in the eye and say, ‘aside villain, you won’t stop us.’

However, as individuals, we need to look, I think, at our lives and decide what’s important. Status Quo can give us a center, a way to understand ourselves, and if we like it, why change it? Folks live in the path of a hurricane and weigh the chances of destruction with fantastic weather, the nearness of friends, the ability to live uncomplicated lives. Their Status Quo was to them, worth the risk.

Seniors fight like hell to keep out of “old folks homes.” Their lives would be better if they moved, however from their point of view, staying put and living their lives in memories, is worth it.

I’m always a bit suspicious of those who tell me that they know what’s better for me than I do. Do they have an agenda unknown to me? Just because they don’t like it when I decide to live in a certain way in a certain place, why should I change for them.

In Gorky Park, the American detective couldn’t imagine not living in the US, and certainly couldn’t imagine preferring Russia. Arkady Renko couldn’t imagine the opposite.

We sometimes criticize the ‘crazy old guy’ who lives alone and prefers to be left alone. Kids make fun of him, adults talk about him at parties and across the back fence. But he’s doing no harm. A colleague tells me that we cannot know what weight others carry. Maybe their status quo helps them to bear that weight.


John Van Horn

John Van Horn

One Response

  1. No one can afford to stick to the status quo in business, as you stated. NO ONE! The changes in technology, work processes and philosophy towards work (Gen Z in mind) forces us as managers to change, innovate and always challenge the status quo. Particularly us “older guys and gals” who are burdened with the responsibility to stay relevant when our unwillingness to quickly change because our “experience” tells us not to move so quickly to the hottest and newest idea (or fad). Scary to think that the Gen Z status quo could soon supercede the status quo of the Baby Boomers. Then our future is in trouble.

    Next earthquake in CA will cause all of the FL talk we have heard in the last week. Hold on!

    Stay well.

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