According to Alan Webber, co-founder of Business Week, it is.  After spending the last month traveling & speaking extensively & talking to a lot of leaders from IT & other disciplines, I agree with Alan Webber. Why?  Well,  Alan has a formula that gets to the heart of why people change & it’s so applicable in today’s workplace. Here’s the formula:

                                              C (SQ) > R (C)

And here’s what it means.  According to Alan, change (C) happens only when the cost of the status quo (SQ) is GREATER than the risk (R) of change (C).

Brilliant, isn’t it and so simple.  But very powerful & indicative of what is happening across organizations today.  I’ve said many times in my blog that leaders today are like renaissance leaders who have been given a challenge and an opportunity to pave the way for change in the 21st Century.  As much as we don’t like change & many times resist it, we know deep down inside that the practices & principles we were taught & that we’ve used so well in our long corporate careers are no longer effective.  They are not helping us meet the challenges that we face today whether it is the fast pace of technology,  the fact that we work in a global market or that we have a young workforce that’s not like ones we’re used to.

The irony is that even though we know that what we’re used to or said differently -the status quo – is not working the fear of change, of the unknown, is so high that we choose to hold on to the past instead of venturing forth & trying something new. I know exactly what it feels like to be in that situation.  As I started hiring Millennials years ago, I wanted desperately to hold on to the way I had led in the past.  It was comfortable, it had always worked & it fit me like a glove.  Why did I have to change?  I resisted it for a long time confident in the fact that those pesky Millennials would finally adapt to the workplace like the rest of us had.

It took me a lot of trial & error to discover that while I was holding on to those leadership principles of the past, the world had changed dramatically over those years.  What I didn’t realize was how those changes became imbedded in our Millennial  children from a very young age & the end result was that those changes fundamentally altered the way the Millennials & every generation that comes after them see the world, their workplace & their bosses.  It was painful for me to realize that how I led in the past (i.e., the status quo) was not serving me any longer.  But after fighting it, I discovered that holding on to the past, to the status quo, was going to be costlier for me in the long run than the risk of making a change.  I came up with my C.A.R.E. System for Leadership as a result of all the trial & errors I had gone through.  Ironically enough, one of the components of the A in C.A.R.E. which stands for Adapt is a technique to let go of the status quo. 

So I had to take a leap.  Changing how I did things & how I led & managed was extremely uncomfortable at first but I kept going & I kept pushing myself & challenging my leadership comfort zone.  The results were transformational not only for my team but especially for me as a leader. I embraced the change & stopped fighting to keep the status quo – I had to let go of the status quo

As I’ve traveled both nationally & internationally this past month, I’ve seen leaders at different stages of acceptance of the math formula above.  The ones that are infusing innovation & change within their teams are the ones, like me, who were uncomfortable changing their styles but did it anyway.  The ones that are still holding on to the status quo are filled with conversations that start with “Yea, but…” They are convinced that the corporate structure will force Millennials to adapt to it.  My question to that has always been “Why”.  It’s not like the corporate structure is so wonderful or evolutionary that it couldn’t stand a radical makeover, right?  There’s a lot of good that can happen within the corporate walls if instead of adapting to it, we adapted it to something better.

The only question is, as a leader, on which side of the math formula are you?  On the change side or the yea but side?