Sometimes, status quo needs to be taken off the table.
I work in IT. Sometimes, no amount of new features or change management will convince my clients to upgrade to a new phone or keep their laptop up-to-date with patches. Why? According to Jonah Berger:
[...] people stick with the status quo. Why incur costs [or discomfort] now if you don't have to? Particularly when the status quo doesn't seem that bad.
In business (or life) the cost of inaction isn't known or the effort of doing something not perceived to be worth it.
- Do I need to apply sunscreen, I'm only going for an hour-long walk?
- Do I need to manage Tracy's performance, she is not that bad and people are not complaining?
- Do I need to update my laptop operating system to the new version? YES you do!
Three tips to fight inaction (your own or others')
- Show the cost of inaction
Is not doing anything really free? Having to delete 10 pictures on your iPhone before you have enough storage for a new shot takes time. The damaging and lasting impact of a poor performer on your team sends a message to the rest of the team and guess what: you get what you tolerate.
- Remove a choice
At work, I made the necessary decision to block smartphones that have fallen too far behind on mandatory security updates. If a user resist upgrading or doesn't take the time to allow an update to happen, their device becomes unusable. We removed the choice for greater security. Don't stock up on salty/sugary snacks for home if you're trying to eat healthier.
- Let go of the old
Be a forward-focused person. By removing the do nothing option from the table, people are encouraged to set aside the old and instead think about which new thing is worth pursuing. In his book The Catalyst, Jonah Berger states that change isn't just about making people more comfortable with new things; it's about helping them let go of the old ones.