Change Never Happens If You Accept the Status Quo

I was truly shocked. It made me think about what we are leaving on the table in terms of business results and shareholder value every single day. Let me tell you how it all began.

I was in a hotel where I would be running an event for a group of sales executives I hadn’t met before. I was excited about changing their thinking and helping them create breakthrough results. I typically start my day with a trip to the fitness center and when I stepped into the elevator, I was a little tired and pressed the button that I thought took me to the correct floor but in my haze I pressed the wrong button. When I corrected the mistake, I turned to the woman in the lift and I said, “I apologize for adding another stop to your journey today.”

The woman’s response surprised me. She said, “Every minute I spend in this elevator, is another minute I don’t have to be in the conference room!” I was truly taken aback. And as I pondered what the woman said, I asked whether today was her last day in the conference room. She replied, “Oh no, we are in there all week!” My heart sank for her. We have all been in this situation before, right? Reluctantly heading to traditional training where people tell us what we should know, show little interest in us as individuals, but expect us to care.

As we descended, I reflected on the session our firm had run for a client just the week before. Indeed, I reflected on the sessions that we run day in, day out, week in, week out, for our clients. We don’t bring standard content and tell people what to think or do. We don’t sit in stale rooms and try to convey information without explaining why, and we don’t expect people to learn simply by being there. Instead, we design content that drives to specific behavioral changes and co-create experiential learning journeys that inspire, excite, and empower people to change their thinking, their behavior, and their results.

As we approached my floor, I explained to the woman that perhaps she should challenge the status quo within her company. I suggested she may feel the same way as the other 30 or 40 people with her, and that they are all equally empowered to show up, explain that the status quo isn’t working, and collaborate to make a difference.

The woman’s response was priceless; “They pay my bills.” And I get it.

As I left the elevator I wished the woman a good week, and I suggested that she might want to be brave and have a candid conversation with the sponsors or organizers of the event so her company could get the highest return on their investment. So many companies waste millions of dollars each year on events that don’t get results. The irony here is that many organizations could spend less money, get a better ROI, and create more fulfilling events that are truly engaging, energetic, and purposeful. We found the secret to success over years of research and applied engagements in Fortune 500 companies.

Although I know that it is very unlikely given the woman’s response, maybe, just maybe, she will reach out to someone who can do something about that experience and shift the session to make it a better use of time, money and energy.

If you are a senior executive, a key player in a learning and development team, or you simply want to make a difference for your organization, please get in touch and let us help you design the outcome-based experiences you deserve. And if you find yourself in a training event that isn’t working, don’t be a victim, don’t sit in silence and don’t be complicit. Stand up, politely challenge the status quo, and make a difference that will improve outcomes for you, those around you, and your organization’s results.

Rob Whitfield

Rob Whitfield


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