“I have a permanent dissatisfaction with the status quo.” When I read that line in the Globe and Mail in 2011 it hit me; that is what I feel too. I have always felt that things could be better.
Those words were uttered by Darren Entwistle, the President and CEO of TELUS, one of Canada’s largest telecommunications companies in discussing how he continues to evolve the company.
These words resonated with me because, at least in my working life, I have always had a highly critical eye for things. How things could be run better, written better, delivered better, told better. I seem to have an in-grained critic in me that always looks out for how things could be done better, or identifying where I think things were done poorly. I sweat the small stuff. I have come to realize that, for me, this has helped me achieve organizational remarkability.
The truth is that if you aren’t looking at things through a lens of how to improve the status quo then you will stagnate. You will turn complacent. You will think what has always been done will always be good enough. You will let things slide and be ok with acceptable.
That. Isn’t. Good. Enough.
Leaders today need to have a healthy dose of dissatisfaction with the status quo. We cannot be ok with today. If you are staying the same, you are slowly dying. We must continue, as leaders and organizations, to get stronger, better, quicker, easier, more engaging, more ……those two letters – e and r – are critical to becoming and staying remarkable. For either at the end of a word – “er” – or as part of “more” – they will ensure that you are driving to improve.
We have all heard about how companies like Kodak, Blockbuster, Smith Corona and others thought things would always stay the same or didn’t read the signs properly. There are others too. I would argue many chambers of commerce and associations are struggling because they are satisfied with the status quo. Groups like Rotary, Lions, Shriners, Masons and other service clubs are in decline. Political parties. They all didn’t have a healthy enough dissatisfaction with the status quo. They let too much change happen. They thought something disruptive was just a flash in the pan. They thought people will always need what they offer. And now, they are struggling.
A permanent dissatisfaction with the status quo doesn’t mean you are permanently grumpy. It just means that you are constantly looking, seeking, exploring and thinking about what’s next. You are thinking of ways to do something better, faster, cheaper or more effortlessly. You are thinking about who is trying to eat your lunch. You are trying to create new linkages and opportunities. You are scanning, assessing, and surveying the landscape for things that will impair or accelerate your organization.
Make sure that you start a practice of status quo dissatisfaction so that you never have to face the fate of those who thought they were doing just fine.
Let me know your story of remarkability. To learn more about how you can avoid getting stuck in the status quo and achieve remarkability, check out my book Making Remarkable: How to Deliver Purpose, Inspire People and Build a Platform for Exceptional Results.