The Status Quo is a Deceptive Little Devil

In 2001, my wife, Jamie, and I started a boutique consulting firm that focused on developing leaders and organizations. We assembled a great team, opened offices in several states, built a terrific list of clients, and achieved double-digit growth every year.

There were two other companies that we often competed with, occasionally partnered with, and frequently encountered in client meetings. We shared a mutual respect for one another and allowed each other to operate unchallenged in the space. One company was a large global firm. The other was mid-sized with a strong desire to grow.

The three companies had carved out space in a dozen or so clients, with each firm serving different needs. I liked the status quo that existed between the two competitors and us. It was comfortable.

Things changed in 2008-2009 with the advent of the global recession. Customer budgets tightened, and what was once an amicable arrangement among competitors became fierce. Like a shark on the hunt, the large international firm wanted every last bit of chum in the water. Interactions became more contentious, and our clients picked up on it. They started pitting our companies against each other to get the best deal. I can’t blame the clients – dollars were tight, and work needed to be done. I would have done the same.

The tide had shifted, and it upended the status quo. It went along like this for the better part of two years. It became a harsh game of give-and-take cost-cutting, constantly trying to defend our work and rates.

In 2011, two years into the increasingly competitive environment, a client offered Jamie and me a project that took us out of the country for three months. We saw it as a great chance to see the world and explore other options to grow and expand our business. We were a bit tired from the David versus Goliath fight and felt that a business trip might give us space to breathe, refocus our efforts, and revisit our game plan. We needed to cause a disruption.

We returned to the U.S. in December 2011, planning to launch a new service to help fortify our position. We had a brilliant idea to bring to the table, but another disruption upended ours. Our competitors had something else in mind. In late December, we took a call from the CEO of the mid-sized competitor. He, too, was feeling the pressure from the change in status quo. His move? He offered to buy our company.

Six months later, we closed the deal.

The status quo sounds nice, but it’s misleading.

The reality is that you are growing or dying, making ground or losing ground. Things aren’t static.

Industries stuck in status quo thinking and doing evolve to the point where the only difference between one company and another is price. That’s a situation ripe for disruption, and someone or something will exploit it while others will scramble or die.

To some extent, the same is true for you.

Think about this. Millions of people will work in jobs 10 years from now that don’t exist today.

The status quo is a deceptive little devil.

Consider Your Situation

  • How has a change to the status quo upended you, your team, or your organization?
  • Who saw the change coming, and who didn’t?
  • What do you see as the next significant change coming your way?

Disrupt Everything!

One of the best ways to deal with change is to run toward it. To be willing to Disrupt Everything!

Two years ago, I launched The Disruption Project at Vanderbilt University, transforming groundbreaking research into actionable strategies for teams and organizations. I’ve distilled these lessons into a dynamic presentation called Disrupt EverythingIn the session, I challenge leaders and teams to become bold disruptors. They learn to question the status quo, take calculated risks, and deliver extraordinary results.

Trust me, this isn’t just another talk—it’s a catalyst for real change. Leaders and teams who embrace disruption see remarkable transformations in themselves, their colleagues, their organizations, and so much more!

Are you curious to learn more or ready to book a date? Contact my speaking agents, Michele Lucia or Canesha Appleton.

Together, we’ll explore how we can help you to build a culture of positive disruption.

Make it a great day!