Stuck in Status Quo: Five Crippling Habits That Inhibit Change and Agility, Part 5 of 5, By Bob Prosen

bob-prosen4Welcome to the fifth and final installment in a 5-part series on crippling work habits that inhibit change and agility. Click here to read Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4.

Crippling Habit 5:
Aversion to Risk and Change

How do you like this excuse: You’re new to a company, you have some great ideas for improvements, you share them, and then you get shot down with, “Once you know what we’re facing, you’ll understand why we do things this way.” In other words, once you become a part of the problem, you won’t want to shake things up.

It’s true we’re all creatures of habit. We’d much rather navigate familiar territory and clutch the belief that if we just keep doing what we’ve done that produced good results, those outcomes will continue in perpetuity. Of course, that theory is ridiculous, because the world around us is in constant flux.

What’s even more ridiculous is that many businesses just keep doing things that have produced bad results, always expecting a different outcome. They become expert at rationalization and maintain that way of thinking until something dramatic happens to the business. Sometimes the higher up you go in an organization, the more prevalent this behavior becomes. Why? Because senior people believe they have more to protect, so they don’t want to risk losing anything.

For change to occur—the pain of change must be perceived as less than the pain of maintaining the status quo. Until this condition is met, little will change. Most companies wait too long to change. They delay until there is no other choice. We see it every day. Companies are taking high write-offs, reducing their workforces, cutting benefits, dividends, and earnings expectations, then finally resorting to change because their competition has beaten them or they are facing a financial crisis.

People want to work for leaders who have the guts to make a decision and stick with it. If your company holds meetings with lots of people to gain broad political consensus, then a leader is trying to ensure that if something goes wrong, there will be plenty of people to blame.

Instead, management must encourage calculated risk taking and truly demonstrate that people who take risks and occasionally miss the mark will live to try again. A culture of blame, fear, and meeting mania can’t flourish in that healthy environment. Gains in productivity alone are reason enough to put a halt to unnecessary meetings.

Bob Prosen is president and CEO of The Prosen Center for Business Advancement®, where he teaches business leaders how to rapidly increase performance and profits. He is listed in The International Who’s Who of Entrepreneurs. Visit his website at

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