Complacency in business is a disease, particularly in our current era of fast-paced innovation.

The power of “how we’ve always done it” is immense, and can almost guarantee complacency.

Complacency is an intrinsic flaw that holds organizations back from pursuing something better, and in many organizations, it is hidden quite well. The tip of the organizational culture iceberg shows a company’s public face: their stated strategy and shared values, their goals, visions, and how they claim to “get things done.”

But underneath the surface, complacency may lurk, and it consists of shared assumptions, norms, unwritten rules, perceptions, and how things actually get done. This is more dangerous than most business executives realize because a business that isn’t dynamic and willing to change in today’s world is a business that will be left behind by the competition. Disruption is inevitable, and complacency can shatter a business when disruption is no longer avoidable.

Shaking your company out of complacency requires a concerted, consistent, long-term effort. Business speakers can be a key part of that effort because the outside viewpoint is a well-established tool for poking at complacency and making people see it and understand it. Here are five ways business speakers can shake your business out of complacency.

1. Through Inspiration

Inspiration from seeing someone overcome seemingly impossible challenges can be hugely effective in shaking individuals out of complacency. And when an auditorium full of people sees a shining example of an inspirational story, they’re likelier to go back to their work with a renewed sense of possibility. That sense of possibility will last and be productive if the business speaker is part of an organizational program to root out complacency and spark innovation.

2. Encouraging Stronger Employee Engagement

The mere fact that a company would bring in business speakers to inject new ways of looking at business issues shows employees that management is concerned about them and wants to help them achieve excellence. The right speaker helps establish and strengthen an organizational climate that encourages positive attitudes and positive business relationships, especially in a business that is open about its desire to improve job satisfaction and retention.

An engaged workforce is a productive, stable workforce.

3. Offering a New Perspective

It can be all too easy for a workforce to slip into only seeing the business from an insider’s perspective. Business speakers, particularly those with industry knowledge, offer both understanding of what it’s like in the industry and a perspective of someone outside the company. Knowing how things appear from another person’s point of view (for good or bad) can be just the thing to prompt people to broaden their own perspective of what they do, how they do it, and how it affects the world.

4. Breaking Up Monotony

Let’s face it: carving out an hour to see a truly inspired business speaker is a great way to break up the monotony of day-to-day work. And breaking up monotony can help uproot complacency. Companies that invest in speaker series (even if some of those speakers appear only on a video displayed on a big screen in the auditorium) show workers that it’s OK – beneficial, even – to break out of the routine regularly and learn something new.

5. Helping Teams Work Better Together

By emphasizing the importance of aligned, collective goals, as well as the importance of every team member in achieving those goals, business speakers can help prompt teams to try new ways of working together. A great inspirational speech triggers the audience’s emotions and can help them generate a renewed sense of commitment and enthusiasm to achieve team and organizational goals. Some speakers may even tackle “teamwork” as a topic and offer solutions teams hadn’t thought of.

Business speakers and leadership coaching alone aren’t the cure for organizational complacency, but they can be a key element of it. Over time, people blind themselves to the shortcomings of “the way we’ve always done it,” and outstanding business speakers can be great at encouraging people to take off those blinders and overcome organizational complacency person by person.

My decades of experience as an executive, a coach, and a speaker have shown me time and time again the importance of building a strong organizational culture, where complacency can’t gain a foothold and thwart efforts toward continued excellence and innovation.

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