The Inertia of the Status Quo

August 6, 2020
Written Insights

If we were honest, "The Inertia of the Status Quo" could have been the title of many of our industry's annual plans for the last ten years.

Break down the words to what they mean, and it nails it:

  • Inertia is defined as a tendency to do nothing or to remain unchanged
  • Status quo is defined as the existing state of affairs

Add since we are humans beings who have habits, we do it intuitively.

  • Intuitively is defined as without conscious reasoning, instinctively.

So, let us look in the way back machine (4 months ago) and see what inertia of the status quo done intuitively looks like:

  • We plan low % incremental growth off of last years sales
  • Product development is based on incremental iteration (e.g., use of Mercury panels, Bluetooth readers and locks, and support of mobile all qualify)
  • We ho-hum along with a familiar sales strategy, keep to the channels we know, happy in the security closet, and focused primarily on high security

Meanwhile, evolution and disruption are all around us.

Then COVID hits, and everything gets accelerated.

I do believe we will trend back towards the old routine, but the markets will not be the same as they were before - new players, new expectations, technology, awareness, and more are here. Most are here to stay. Things have shifted.  

But as Seth Godin recently stated, "When the world changes, it's tempting to fight hard to maintain the status quo that feels safe." I believe this sums up a good bit of our industry.

But the industry has an opportunity. We have a chance to elevate and go beyond the cottage industry. We can fight in the streets of the mainstream. It is time to leverage our superpowers: the expertise, the install base, the fragmentation, and the relationships.

How? There are many ways and I’ve discussed many over the past 22 weeks, but here is one that has become more apparent to me and a common thread throughout most of them:

Start incorporating Human Behavioral Science in your sales, product, and engineering departments by hiring for it. Incorporate it in your strategy and planning. Extend it beyond your HR department. That is a key action item.

Behavioral science is the scientific study of human behavior. Behavioral science studies the way that emotions, the environment, and social factors influence our decisions. McKinsey recently wrote an article called "Understanding and shaping consumer behavior in the next normal." It is focused on consumer behavior, and I recommend you read it. Yes, I know we are in the commercial market but the essence of what they are discussing is transferable and is extremely relatable. The reasons, the why, the concerns, and the behaviors of everyone has changed. We need to understand them. As the article states: "Behavioral science tells us that identifying consumers' new beliefs, habits, and 'peak moments' is central to driving behavioral change. Five actions can help companies influence consumer behavior for the longer term: (1) Reinforce positive new beliefs (2) Shape emerging habits with new offerings (3) Sustain new habits, using contextual cues (4) Align messages to consumer mindsets (5) Analyze consumer beliefs and behaviors at a granular level".

If you think you are going to continue your growth, accelerate it, or survive post-COVID by riding the wave of inertia towards the status quo, you are going to be sadly disappointed. The world has changed. Our customers have changed. Our industry has changed. We need to as well and I would start by bringing people that understand Behavioral Science in to start.

Lee Odess

I've worked as an Entrepreneur and an Integrator (founded E+L+C), for a multinational billion dollar manufacturer in the lock and access control industry (Allegion), as an Executive of a start-up who pioneered the IoT/smart lock/smart physical access control industry (UniKey), and as an Executive with the first cloud based physical access control manufacturer (Brivo). I put all those years together to form a Growth Studio focused on business creation in the CRETech, proptech and smart home markets for small to large companies in the security, access control and IoT industry.

Labeled as an uber-networker by the Washington Post, Lee Odess has over 18 years starting, building and leading businesses with an exceptional track record for sales growth and marketing effectiveness.

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