University Business - July 2008 - (Page 23)

VIEWPOINT Stifling Initiative 10 simple rules for crushing innovation and maintaining a culture of inertia By David Donathan C HANGE IS NOT POPULAR. Heck, people hate change. It causes the status quo to become unsettled and the familiar starts to go away, replaced with uncertainty. Our comfort zone is demolished and we have to try to resettle into uncharted territory. If we’ve learned a routine and it seems to work, there is absolutely no reason to have to do it differently. After all, the experts will agree that there is nothing new under the sun. So-called innovations are only the status quo in a rehashed, repackaged format that looks new. Honestly, who believes that just because a proposal will generate a slick exterior that the same functional beast doesn’t lurk within? Unfortunately, there are always those who just don’t get it. You know—those who think organizations need to adapt to remain competitive, that change is good and results in greater efficiencies, that failure to adapt to “modernalities” is evil and counterproductive. Since they usually mean well and truly believe they are trying to improve our situation, we don’t want to cull them from the herd (besides, who wants the hassle of trying to break in the newbie?). It usually suffices to discourage these people to the point that they fall in line and stop agitating. How do we get them to stop? How do we encourage the status quo without driving them to leave? I call this unique program “Endiscouragement: The Fine Art of Encouraging No Change Without Being Perceived as a Naysayer.” It has ten simple rules, which, if judiciously applied, will gradually lead the agents of change to conform to the Losing the proposal provides breathing space to implement one of the more permanent tactics. culture of no that we are so carefully trying to preserve. Don’t forget to pontificate as much as possible when adopting any of these strategies, as properly communicated responses will serve to confuse the agent of change as to the exact meaning of your reply, further obfuscating the issue at hand. 1. Request a formal written proposal. Remind the change agent that the idea has to meet the administrative requirements. This is an awesome instrument of administrative righteousness. We carefully ascribe to a perceived supportive role by ensuring the agent of change fully understands the depth of our commitment is to a 100 percent administratively correct document that includes background, research, expert opinions, examples of application, desirable outcomes, and all supporting documentation in the correct format, properly assembled for staffing through required offices to achieve the maximum potential for approval. 2. Send the proposal to a committee. Committees serve only to maximize an individual’s incompetence. They are, therefore, ideal for your role as a supporter of innovative proposals. Accept the change packet enthusiastically and promise to carefully review it. After stalling for a few days (and you can usually stretch the stalling way beyond any believable period), inform the agent of change that you loved her proposal and that you have submitted it to “the” committee. (The agent of change is female throughout this program, but certainly both genders attempt to be agents of change.) If you think ahead, the proposal can be misrouted to the wrong committee. When committee members let you know you sent it to them in error, ask them to forward the proposal to the correct committee. With luck, the proposal will disappear into administrative limbo and you will be able to honestly respond to any update requests with “I haven’t heard from the committee yet, but I’ll let you know as soon as I do.” 3. Schedule meetings to discuss the concept. Talk about a proactive negative-positive support maneuver! You are so impressed by the proposed change that you are willing to call a meeting to advance it. David Donathan is chair of the Business, Management, and Computer Information Systems department at St. Catharine College (Ky.). July 2008 | 23

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of University Business - July 2008

University Business - July 2008
College Index
Company Index
Advisory Board
Editor's Note
Behind the News
Money Matters
Financial Aid
Human Resources
Students in Need, Schools at the Ready
Security Officers Speak Out
Advancement Goes Digital
A New Day for NASFAA
Sustainable Admissions
What's New
End Note

University Business - July 2008