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In This Issue: Leaders Who Challenge the Status Quo

By Todd Post

Mention status quo in a room full of project managers and you’re likely to see a few people wincing. Note that no one yet is talking about a particular policy or regulation. It’s just the word status quo itself and all that it connotes that turns the mood sour.


You don’t need to be a linguist to understand the difference between denotation and connotation with a word like status quoin your vocabulary. Webster’s defines status quo as “the existing state of affairs.” Well, there’s nothing pejorative about that. But why do so many of us hear something else? “An untenable existing state of affairs” sounds more like it…or “the sterile conditions around here”…or “the stifling reasons I don’t enjoy my work anymore.”

Perhaps you have your own definition.

In this issue of ASK, we consider the status quo and what it connotes for several exceptional project managers. Our articles address what it takes to challenge the status quo in the face of all sorts of pressures and constraints, bureaucracy and intransigence. We find several solutions, all tailored to the unique circumstances that our authors encountered as they smashed their way through the status quo bedrock in their respective organizations. Michael Jansen found inspiration in his youthful experiments with the junk collected by his parents and stored in the family’s garage. Steven Gonzalez and his colleagues at NASA’s Johnson Space Center looked to the future for their inspiration — about a hundred years — and Joan Salute turned inward to her core values. These are just some of the people and stories you’ll find in this issue of ASK.

I suspect if you’ve ever been in a situation where you’ve wondered why you can’t change things around you, then you’ll draw plenty of inspiration from these articles. Don’t forget to send us your own examples of challenging the status quo. Tell us why the status quo makes you shiver when you hear that word, or why not.

Enjoy the issue and thanks for being part of our readership.

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