The Status Quo, or The Way Things Are, is rampant. Status-quo mindset pervades people, perceptions and systems. The Status Quo craves stasis and stability.
One of the most pervasive ways in which the status quo is manifested in organizations is by the word NO!
NO is a very powerful word. It is controlling. It is the mantra of a traditional, siloed infrastructure. It is used to keep things in place. And you can’t move forward beyond NO until you know why that powerful word is holding you and your organization back.
By taking a 5,000 foot eagle’s eye view of our situation, we can understand why systems promote stasis by encouraging a NO mindset instead of YES.
1. It’s easier to say NO than YES
The status quo seeks stability and homogeneity. NO is an effortless response because YES – and the act of making that decision – are viewed as disruptive to the status quo. YES requires homework, analysis and consensus. Decision-makers in status-quo, siloed infrastructures can bet that you haven’t done your homework when you want them to make a decision. Are you making it easy for them to tell you NO?
2. NO is the easy answer when you haven’t provided CONTEXT
NO means you haven’t provided that decision-maker adequate context for your request. Of course you have rationalized why your request should be approved. But have you taken a look at the situation from the context of the decision-maker? Are you aware of all of the factors impacting his or her ability to make that decision? What is the history of this decision-maker’s decision-making? Are they a naysayer, historically? Are you only thinking from the context of YOU when you are making your request? Perhaps you should be thinking within the context of that decision-maker.
3. NO means you haven’t provided PERSPECTIVE
Who else is impacted by your request? Because that is what that decision-maker is thinking about. Your request for YES catalyzes a lot of other people asking for YES as well. Is your request perceived by that decision-maker as complimentary or disruptive within the workspace, professional discipline, and industry? Is your perspective of your request limited to YOU and your needs and goals rather than the goals of others? Are you creating a situation which causes conflict across departments or divisions and pits your decision-maker against another? Do they have a history of collaboration or competition? History makes people risk averse. Perhaps you should be thinking from the perspective of that decision-maker.
4. NO is the prudent response when there is no RELEVANCE
Just as you are interested in What’s In It For Me, so is that decision-maker. They may have taken a chance making a decision in the past that resulted in a messy situation reflecting poorly on their leadership. How is your request for their decision relevant to their priorities, objectives and goals as a decision-maker? Make sure you know the history and context involved when asking for YES. You just may be walking into a minefield. What you perceive as a simple request from the context and perspective of YOU, may be relevant and significant to you, and only you.
The language of a relevant request for a decision provides a compelling reason to say YES. Are you making that request relevant to that decision-maker? Are you asking for that decision using the language of that decision-maker? Are you making that decision easy to understand from by that decision-maker?
Otherwise there is an equally compelling reason to remain within the boundaries of the status-quo NO.
What does NO look and sound like in your organization?
This morning, I spoke to the Southeastern Michigan Chapter of IEEE – Women in Engineering. This blog post is an excerpt of that talk I gave and the ensuing round-table discussion, based on a full discussion in my book, Do YOU Mean Business? To learn more about the book, click here.