Challenging the Status Quo


“The riskiest thing we can do is just maintain the status quo.” —Bob Iger

By Elizabeth Stincelli, DM


The Status Quo

As Marshall Goldsmith said, “What got you here won’t get you there.” What is sufficient for success today will not be sufficient tomorrow. You must learn to be agile. Evaluate where you are today and where you want to go. Will continuing on your current route get you there? If you are seeking long-term success you must constantly challenge the status quo.

What is your mission?

Your purpose should provide a clear mission. Who needs you? What do they need and why? What must you do to meet those needs? When you have a reasoned mission, you have a clear picture of where you are going and how you will behave on your journey. This clarity allows you to remain calm during times of adversity. It helps you view the lessons of past experiences with an eye for the future. With a clear mission you will find it easier to stay true to your values. Colin Powell reminds us, “Fit no stereotypes. Don’t chase the latest management fads. The situation dictates which approach best accomplishes the team’s mission.” Continually challenge the status quo in light of your mission.


John Emmerling tells us, “Innovation is creativity with a job to do.” Innovation allows you to create something new that meets an unmet need and provides value. The ability to innovate requires that you overcome our fear of challenging the status quo. When you take all of your small ideas and combine them, you often come up with one, great idea. Focus on looking for ways to innovate everywhere. Listen to the needs of your customers, employees, and stakeholders as you consider challenging the status quo.


When you challenge the status quo you open yourself to seeing opportunity where you least expect it. Ask questions. What is working and what isn’t? How can I make it or do it better? Milton Berle said, “If opportunity doesn’t knock, build a door.” Constantly step outside your comfort zone. Take on challenging situations. Be willing to look at situations from a new perspective. Welcome opportunities to collaborate in new and creative ways. Look to the work of others for inspiration and opportunity to reevaluate the status quo.


Change is a necessity; we must change or we become obsolete.  William Pollard said, “Without change there is no innovation, creativity, or incentive for improvement. Those who initiate change will have a better opportunity to manage the change that is inevitable.”Learn to question the status quo and then embrace the change that is required to achieve success today, tomorrow, and into the future.

Where Do We Go From Here?

Howard Schultz believes that, “Any business today that embraces the status quo as an operating principle is going to be on a death march.” It would be foolish to think that you can continue to be successful by doing the same things tomorrow that you did yesterday. You must learn to adapt your thinking to embrace new challenges, strategies, and ways of approaching your work. Clarify your mission, pursue innovation, seek opportunity, and embrace change. Challenge the status quo and move your business forward.


© 2014 Elizabeth Stincelli


Elizabeth Stincelli is passionate about recognizing and inspiring the leader in each of us. She is the CEO of Stincelli Advisors where she focuses on helping organizations engage employees and improve organizational culture. Elizabeth holds a Doctor of Management degree with an emphasis on organizational leadership.

Learn more about Elizabeth by visiting her website, and connect with her on Twitter @infinitestin, Google+, and LinkedIn. You can contact her by email at