Companies struggle with status quo thinking and behaviors. The larger the organization, the stronger these static forces become. One of the more common status quo behaviors is the question: “What are other people doing?”


Decision-makers have good reasons for asking what others have done. For one thing, it keeps outcomes safely in the center of the bell curve. Doing what others have done is less likely to produce an outlier result one way or the other – for better or for worse. While herd decisions may protect you temporarily from disastrous outcomes, they also create institutional inertia that can keep you from positive windfalls and inspiring triumphs.


Statisticians call it “dropping the outliers.” It involves removing the extreme results to stay in a band of blandly positive or tolerably negative outcomes. If you want to be average, dropping the outliers is one way to help ensure that outcome.


That’s from a business perspective. From a human perspective, it is also personally safer for decision makers to follow existing paths. Basing your decisions on prior ones provides a safety net. Who can be fully blamed for just doing what others have also done And yet…

  • What if you accept that 75 percent of change efforts fail?
  • What if previous change efforts at your organization have not achieved desired results?
  • What if you know that moderate or average results will not be good enough for the continued success of your company?

Sometimes organizations must be outstanding in order to succeed or survive. Choosing to do what others have done or what you have done before may feel safe. But when you need outstanding results, the worst thing you can do is to drop your outliers and steer for average.


If you are choosing to implement big changes that will likely create some discomfort in your workforce, you must be doing it because you feel pressure to evolve and emerge through change as something significantly different and improved, whether than means being more competitive or cost-efficient, safety-conscious or innovative.


In other words, you are trying to become an outlier.


So how can you do that? Where is the biggest opportunity to improve performance? I propose that it’s in the people, the human factors associated with change.


Years of MBAs have made businesses very good at strategic planning. Leaders tap from the same pool of schools and consultancies to develop business plans. If you grant this point, it follows that your greatest potential for competitive advantage resides not in the strategic plan, which is generally going to look like your competitor’s strategic plan, but in the implementation of that plan, and specifically in the way that you account for human factors.


How fast can you go from change concepts and grand strategies to real behaviors and outcomes that matter? You will never know your company’s full potential if you have not made a conscious effort to avoid the status quo, be an outlier, do things differently as it relates to your employee population.


Want to start a conversation about achieving positive outlier results? Reach out to Soteres Consulting to discuss how you can better account for human factors and do change differently for better, faster results.