HR Management & Compliance

End the Status Quo by Killing the Company

How do you make space for change and innovation? Sometimes you have to kill the company, says Lisa Bodell, speaking at the Society for Human Resource Management’s (SHRM) Talent Management Conference and Exhibition. Bodell, CEO of futurethink, keynoted the conference, held recently in San Diego.

How will you describe your company to prospective employees?

  • Status quo, protective, and cautious?
  • Risk taker, optimistic, and competitive?
  • Change maker, visionary, and market maker?


Bodell offers this test to find out how open to change your organization is. Decide “YES” or “NO” with regard to each of the statements below:




CREATIVE PROBLEM SOLVING (1) People in our organization actively think about how to push the boundaries of what is seemingly possible, and they imagine how to apply critical trends to our business to stay ahead.



STRATEGIC IMAGINATION (2) Our employees are comfortable asking provocative and sometimes unsettling questions to stretch the organization’s thinking.



PROVOCATIVE INQUIRY (3) Our people can think on their feet and, when faced with unforeseen challenges, can nimbly change direction.



AGILITY (4) Our employees do not easily give up on their beliefs and ideas when encountering adversity or disbelief and generally see them through.



RESILIENCE (5) Our organization is constantly looking forward to the next 5 to 10 years, and it actively seeks solutions on how to stay ahead of the curve.



FUTURE-FOCUSED (6) We seek to improve what’s been done before. We push for continual improvement, even if what we’re offering is already successful.



CHALLENGE STATUS QUO (7) We purposefully hire people with diverse backgrounds and strive to create project teams comprising a variety of disciplines.



ACTIVE COLLABORATION (8) We often look at what other institutions and industries adjacent or even unrelated to ours are doing. We strive to learn from them and apply their best practices to our own work.



To score yourself, count the number of “YES” responses.

Number of “YES” answers

You are:

1 to 2

Status quo, protective, and cautious

3 to 5

Risk taker, optimistic, and competitive

6 to 8

Change maker, visionary, and market maker

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What Industry Transformations Will Change YOUR Industry?

Bodell offers two examples of dramatic changes that are taking place today.

  • BMW is working on a car with 1,000 sensors, many of which will be directed at the driver’s health. The car will let you know if you have gained or lost weight, will help you find a healthier route to your destination based on air quality, and will measure your heart rate.
  • In the pharmaceutical industry, the cutting edge is thinking beyond the pill—can pharmaceuticals be delivered through the ventilation system?

Bodell’s point is that you need to be asking what transformations will change your industry.

Start Asking Killer Questions

Instead of the old standbys—Who has an idea about …? How should we improve …?—try these questions, says Bodell:

  • If we had to give away our current products or services for FREE, how else could we make money?
  • What question would you love to ask our customers (or employees) but are too scared or embarrassed to ask?
  • You’ve just written a tell-all book about our organization. What secrets does it reveal?

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Assumption Reversal

Assumption reversal may yield interesting ideas.

For example, in restaurants, you expect a menu, a waiter, a chef, and a location.

  • What about a restaurant with no menu? Or a tablet?
  • How about a robot for a waiter?
  • How about a make-your-own-food approach?
  • How about no location—it’s different every night?
  • How about a restaurant in the dark with food delivered from the ceiling?

What assumptions hold you back from creating new things? How can you reverse them?


Bodell also shared some Bodell common sense:

  • Many organizations approach change wrong. They try to do it with reports, policies, and procedures. That’s an excuse to do nothing.
  • Unfortunately, the leaders who are pushing for change are the ones who resist it.
  • To inspire people, you may have to make them uncomfortable.
  • Change is not a straight line.
  • Acquisition strategy—only acquire companies that will make your current business obsolete.
  • Today, the top strategy is not to be the best, it is to be the only.
  • Neurologist: Your brain is working from the very moment you get up in the morning to the moment you set foot in the office.

In tomorrow’s Advisor, a step-by-step process on how to kill the company, plus the last chance to register for tomorrow’s free webcast from iCIMS, Make 2015 Your Best Year Yet: Lead Organizational Success by Attracting & Hiring Top Talent.