Justifying the status quo

If its context changes, a decision is no longer valid

When introducing a new idea—a technology, way of thinking, etc—in large organizations or in government, you often have to justify it as a replacement for the status quo.

It can be frustrating to go through this justification process while an unjustifiable status quo goes unquestioned. New ideas aren’t compared to the status quo’s laundry list of faults, but are instead picked apart for their minor flaws.

Defenders of the status quo argue that that idea was justified when it became the status quo, and thus needs no further justification. But this reasoning has two faults:

  1. There’s often no conscious decision to designate an as idea the status quo. Ideas become the default in haphazard ways.
  2. Sometimes there is such a decision, to adopt an idea or to go further and designate it as the standard. But any such decision is taken within a specific context made up of specific assumptions. If that context changes (a certainty), that decision is no longer valid, and the status quo becomes unjustified.