Challenge The Status Quo

photo by Mirko Macari

photo by Mirko Macari

With Eliminate The Muda, my intention is to explore the application of lean management in the life of an individual. The core concepts of lean are centered around removing wastes from ones life thereby leaving more value.

This approach can manifest itself in money, most of us waste far too much. Time however can also be wasted which can be equated to your long term financial well being. I’ve also shared 7 forms of waste that we all experience to some extent.

There are however a number of other principles that lean management also use to help guide and teach us to get the most out of life, our time and our money. As an example, I have explored 5S; a formalized method of organization and cleanliness.

Another concept promoted with lean is challenging the status quo.

You may have heard someone joke about inefficiencies in their company saying something to the effect “we do it this way because that is how we’ve always done it.” Humans are habitual, we often don’t find change easy. Some are downright rebellious against change.

Why are people so habitual? I am sure there are many studies by psychologist and academia that can do a much better job of answering this question with scientific detail. Based on my life’s observations I don’t believe we need to go much further than our public school system or society in general.

From a very young age children are taught to speak only when spoken to. We are asked to wait in lines, raise our hands to ask questions and told not to question authority.

When we get a little older and begin working in the real world we carry much of this learned behavior into the workplace. We are told to do but not to think. We are encouraged to keep our nose to the grindstone and warned to never rock the boat.

In our personal lives we are directed which door to enter and which to exit, we are taught to stay in our lane and follow those in front while obeying signs and placards. We stand in lines, wait our turns and we still don’t question authority.

Intrinsically, we know there are better ways, more efficient methods and smarter approaches to getting our jobs done. We see that life is not fair and learn that some get ahead while others stagnate.

While many people believe the rich get richer and the poor get poorer, there is ample evidence the most unlikely persons can and do overcome all barriers. Read any number of biographies of people that rose from poverty to wealth and you will find that they have challenged the status quo. The true story of Chris Gardner in particular is motivational.

Curiously many people accept their  lot in life, they accept the status quo, but why?  It comes down to belief. The scientists call it the status quo bias; a persons tendency not to change behavior unless the incentive to change is compelling. They also refer to this as a cognitive bias which can be distilled for our purpose into, drum roll please, habit. We learn to not challenge the status quo. Don’t permit yourself to be locked into this frame of mind.

You can eliminate debt, generate wealth, get a raise or get a better deal. All you have to do is ask the right question and get the right answer. Ask for a discount, question the data, negotiate harder, offer suggestions, take risks, propose alternatives, try new techniques, experiment with different methods and break the habit of being stagnate in work and life.



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