Status Quo Preserving Behavior

People prefer to keep things the same due to loss aversion and take actions to inhibit or minimize change. This can be seen in work environments where there is stark resistance to a change in the product (product work is hard because it necessitates change), processes, or organization.

  • Learned Helplessness

    When employees lose their sense of agency they start to look outwardly as the source of their problems and solutions.

  • Loss Aversion

    People find it more painful to lose something than to gain something equivalent. One interpretation is that people overvalue what they have because it is theirs. This leads to status quo preserving behavior.

  • People Are Bad at Long-Term Thinking

    People are generally bad at thinking and making decisions about long-term consequences. Gate’s Law observes that people overestimate the short term and underestimate the long term. People are motivated by loss aversion which leads to status quo preserving behavior and biases people towards keeping things the same.

  • Objectivity and Fallibility

    The fastest way to lose your objectivity is to lose your sense of fallibility. If you don’t think that you can be wrong, every decision you make feels right.

  • We Reduce Anxiety With Activity

    When things get challenging or stressful, we attempt to reduce our anxiety by doing things (sometimes anything). By doing things we feel like we are making progress. However, this doesn’t solve the problem at and can even make it worse.

  • A Hundred Things to Organize

    Whenever there are a hundred things or more in a process someone is doing, there is a recognition that “there must be a better way”. A hundred items are the upper bound of what one can reasonably track manually. A hundred items indicate that the process is more complicated than one thought.

  • There Are Surprisingly Few Product Engineers

    Product engineers solve user problems, but why are there so few of them?

  • The Godzilla Speech

    The founder of Startmate, who went on to found Australia’s best venture capital firm (Blackbird VC), always gave what he called “the Godzilla speech” to people when they joined. His whole idea was that you get one chance to try to put a dent in a path. People join a job, an organization, and they take a linear path. Through the Godzilla speech, he would say, “Look, all these fucking giant lizards were once tiny, and you might think you’re tiny, but you have to pretend to be giant.”

  • The Shirky Principle

    Institutions end up perpetuating the problems they aim to resolve, either intentionally or unintentionally. For example, TurboTax addresses the issue that taxes are too complicated for individuals to handle independently and then lobbies Congress to hinder efforts to simplify tax preparation for individuals.

  • Justificationism Secures Ideas Against Change

    One way to answer “how do we know…?” is to justify one’s belief by reference to an authoritative source or cornerstone of knowledge. This is, in effect, saying “by what authority do we claim…?” which seeks endorsement in order to have certainty. Justificationism as a theory of knowledge therefore resists change (or at least delays in a form of path dependence).