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The Three Kinds of Conservatism


Robby

I visit a lot of businesses around central Indiana, and I come across a lot of people who are “conservative.” That word, however, has a variety of meanings. It’s about time we cleared the air on this one.

Let’s knock out the obvious definition first: a political conservative. That’s a person who tends to be more on the right side of the political spectrum. Of course, there are a variety of opinions about the best way to operate our country, so when I speak about “conservatism” in the workplace I am not talking about national or regional or even Indianapolis city politics. Of course sometimes the progressive / liberal / Democratic approach has merit, and sometimes the conservative / traditional / Republican approach might be best.

Annoyed Face
© Flickr User Justin and Jennifer Stacey

The second type of conservatism refers to the degree of risk you are willing to take. Sometimes, it’s a good idea to be bold and rush out into the marketplace or to try something which could be a result in a serious failure. Sometimes, it’s wise to play it safe and “be conservative.” And again, every situation is different. It’s sometimes good to be aggressive and sometimes good to be conservative.

The third type of conservatism is a refusal to consider new ideas. It’s this brand of being conservative that is a problem. I hear it all the time from business owners, employees, and jobseekers alike. They say things like:

  • Twitter is just a fad. I don’t need to do that.
  • People will come around to the old way of doing things, you wait.
  • I’m going to do it the old fashioned way.
  • It’s worked this way for the past forty years, why should today be any different?

It should be clear that this is a major issue. If you’re looking for jobs by checking the classifieds in the newspaper, you’re making a mistake. If you’re trying to find the best service company by opening the yellow pages, you’re missing out. And if you’re not at least learning a little about new technology, you’re not going to have much chance to compete.

It’s this definition of conservatism that we should all be wary of. Not that we should always do the new thing, but that we should always consider it.

In the words of Grace Hopper: “The most dangerous phrase in the English language is, ‘we’ve always done it this way.'”

Consider doing something different.

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About the Blogger: Robby Slaughter is a productivity speaker and expert. He is a principal with a AccelaWork, an Indianapolis consulting firm.

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Tue, October 27 2015 » Corporate Culture, Leadership

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