Challenging the Status Quo

Hey, I got my first piece of mail asking a question. Very cool.

Hi Bernie,

Hope you are doing well..

How can you challenge the status quo without burning bridges or creating any negative relationship ? I’d appreciate your insight to this topic.. thanks in advance..


Great question, VS. Thanks!

This is a relationship building exercise. If you deliver, when it comes time to push you’ll have influence. It would be nice if all we had to do to earn credibility & influence was to deliver on our responsibilities. It’s a necessary but insufficient requirement.

To take it to the next level you need to know who to influence, when to influence them, and what levers you have to pull. You have to put the energy into identifying, establishing, and managing the relationships. See my subject index for several articles on managing relationships and building influence, which I add to continually.

Plan to Win

Decisions are not made in meetings. Meetings are where decisions are formalized. Decisions get made before the meeting. Managers who don’t understand this dynamic are often taken by surprise. You’ll be able to find them because they’re the ones whining about “playing politics”. If you want influence then get in front of the decision.

Make sure the change you want to see implemented lines up with the values and vision of your company. Change is your CEO’s job. She’s responsible for nursing the vision of where your company is gong to be in twenty years. If your change supports where your business is going it’s that much easier to make that change. If it’s doesn’t, you may want to consider if it’s worth burning your influence capital over.

You don’t have to choose between staying quiet and lighting a bridge on fire. In your context think about how can you pitch your change at the right people so that they see the advantage to them and the company, and what do you have to prepare to give it the best chance of success.

Right Fit?

After giving it your best, sincere effort to a change that you believe is in the best interests of the company, and your energy and effort have fallen on deaf ears, you may have to consider if this company is a good fit for you. Finding a company where your values line up with the real values of the company (not just the ones on that dust-gathering plaque on the wall) feels liberating and easy. Not a daily struggle.


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