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Vishwadeep Khatri
Message added by Mayank Gupta,

Status Quo Bias is a phenomenon where people / teams / organizations do not want to deviate from the current situation even when the current situation might not be optimal.

 

An application-oriented question on the topic along with responses can be seen below. The best answer was provided by Hardik Joshi on 6th Jun 2024.

 

Applause for all the respondents - Abhijeet Sonake, Hardik Joshi, Radhika G, Amol Ingole.

Question

Q 675What is a Status Quo Bias? Elaborate with examples how it prevents organizations to make impactful decisions. What can be done to overcome this bias?

 

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Status quo bias is defined as the continuing current strategy or idea and rejecting new strategy or ideas even though it may change state of affairs. 
It was first identified by Mr. William Samuelson and Mr. Richard Zeckhauser in 1988 in the academic article “Status Quo Bias in Decision-Making.” They have done various experiments regarding given the choice between the status quo and a new option and they found that people were more likely to follow already existing situation.
It is the situation where decision is taken emotionally rather than logically. Whenever changes occur or proposed then people may feel uncomfortable where the outcome is unknown. This tendency is to keep people themselves safe and the things continue as it is. 
Ultimately status quo bias negatively affects ability to make decisions. Due to this people may miss valuable opportunities. Status quo bias can also hinder the growth of a business. If top management is not willing to take risks which could benefit the business at large, the company could begin to stagnate. 
Examples of Status Quo Bias in the Workplace?
If a company already have CDA with vendor and CDA is about to expire. Then company will renew agreement without giving opportunity to another vendor which may be better than earlier. 
When a company is introducing SAP system to replace ERP then employee show preference for keeping existing ERP for which they are more familiar. However, in actual scenario, SAP provides better flexibility and more options for management.
How to Overcome Status Quo Bias?
If you’re in a leadership position then it is up to you that how to communicate organizational change to your team. 
Learn to recognize status quo bias in yourself and others
It is a leadership skill that understand status quo bias when it happens.
Weigh the advantages and disadvantages
Sometime status quo bias may be beneficial to take wrong decision. So, we need to identify pros and cons for this. Collective decision needs to be taken. 
Frame the default option as a loss 
We need to consider loss as a default option according to loss aversion principle.
Follow the REDUCE framework 
Leader need to establish certain framework that reduces barrier for change. 

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Examples of Status Quo Bias in Organizations:

 

  • Using the outdated software since the employees are used to it.
  • Retail company not launching the business online or in E-commerce.
  • Using the same marketing strategy even when its not been fruitful .

 

How Status Quo Bias Prevents Impactful Decisions:

 

  • By sticking to what is known and comfortable, organizations may fail to innovate and adapt to changing market conditions.
  •  Opportunities for growth and improvement can be overlooked or ignored because they involve change.
  • Continued reliance on outdated processes and systems can lead to inefficiencies and higher operational costs.

Strategies to Overcome Status Quo Bias:

 

  • Need to promote a work environment where experimentation and calculated risk-taking are valued.
  • Rewards and recognition should be held for the employees who suggested or implemented beneficial changes 
  • Offer training programs to help employees understand the benefits of new technologies and methodologies.
  • Leaders should clearly communicate the vision and benefits of change, showing how it aligns with the organization’s goals.
  • Make decisions based on data and evidence rather than tradition. Presenting clear, factual evidence can help overcome emotional resistance to change.


 

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Bias is a distorted view that leads to inclination towards something or someone.

 

In case of Status Quo Bias, the point of view in someone's head is that whatever the current status is, is the best. They might have their theories or opinions about why they believe so, though that might not be necessary logical or analytical or derivable. 

When someone carries status quo, they might go with their emotional gut feeling, and just have that as the preference all along. 

 

How it impacts decision making?

This prevents many professionals, for example,

1- From questioning what they do, and how they do; and hence is very opposite to being progressive and the ethos of continuous improvement.

 

2- From questioning how  take decision, hence preventing any improvement that can happen in the decision making process, questioning the inputs and outputs of that decision.

 

3- From being curious on how a process can be improved, hence preventing them from exploring technology within their aspects of work.

 

In summary, a team or an organization continues to act in old rudimentary ways of work, and poor decision making, unless someone knocks at their door and asks them to improve. This can be their boss, or can be newcomers in the teams. 

 

 

How to overcome this bias?

The only way to overcome this bias, like other biases, is being mindful about yourself, which can only be learnt through practice. 

Imparting training and having smaller breakout exercises under guidance can help teams come out of this bias.

Hiring younger staff with fresher perspective, or consultants who impart such trainings, helps in understanding how out of sync from the thought process of the current world we might be.

 

 

 

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In simple words Status Quo Bias is resistance to make any change for any thing unfamiliar.

How it prevents organizations to make impactful decisions:

Some examples:

1.      Kodak's Reluctance to Digital Photography - Kodak was a pioneer in film photography but failed to transition to digital despite having early technology. Their commitment to the status quo of film photography led to their decline

2.      Nokia's weak / slow Response to Smartphones: Nokia dominated the mobile phone market but was slow to adopt smartphone technology, allowing competitors like Apple and Samsung to take over

3.      Blockbuster's Failure to Compete with Netflix: Blockbuster was slow to adopt a digital streaming model, sticking to its brick-and-mortar rental stores. This allowed Netflix to capture the market

How to prevent Status Quo Bias:

1.      Support the innovation culture –

Google encourages a culture of innovation by allowing employees to spend good amount of their time on projects they are passionate about, leading to products like Gmail and Google Maps

2.      Incremental Change and Pilot Programs –

Amazon regularly tests new ideas through pilot programs and small-scale rollouts (e.g., Amazon Go stores)

3.      Customer-Centric Approach –

P&G uses a customer-driven innovation model to develop new products based on deep consumer insights

4.      Adopting new Technology - GE embraced digital transformation by investing in the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) to optimize operations

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