Decision-makers frequently underestimate the costs of doing nothing, of maintaining the status quo. The price of not changing is often less obvious and harder to quantify than the expense of change. In an ideal world, improvement and new opportunity decisions are made on a rational basis: cost effectiveness – monetary and human. Accurate estimates of costs and benefits for each proposed alternative must be calculated. The costs are relatively easy to isolate.
But what about the alternative that doesn’t involve change, the status quo option? Underestimated costs of doing nothing include downtime, clinging to outgrown systems, incompatible mixes of old and new programs and procedures, or using outdated procedures. An apt description of our educational system.
The demands on education have increased greatly in recent years. Student populations have changed, and community complexity has increased. Instead of adopting new methods and procedures, some organizations stretch their old systems to accommodate the change they have experienced. Eventually the organization slows down, becomes less efficient or effective, and gives poor service. The costs are public dissatisfaction, more complaints and pressure for privatization.
If an organization prefers to maintain the status quo, it will only change when forced to. This will result in a mishmash of new, old and totally obsolete practices. One way to be prepared for change is to have procedures to respond to new requirements and opportunities……built into the organization. There is no such thing as cost-free status quo.