Simple has been one of my mantras. You have to work hard to get your thinking clean to make it simple. But it’s worth it in the end, because once you get there you can move mountains.
What Steve Jobs understood, that many others do not, is that it takes much more effort to achieve simplicity than it does to achieve complexity. Everything naturally expands towards the complex, unless very tightly driven the other way, and cultures are no different.
Editor’s Note: We are pleased to feature this post highlighting Jon Katzenbach, a leading practitioner in organizational strategies and an acclaimed advisor to executives for PwC’s strategy consulting group, Strategy&. Stay tuned for the upcoming CultureU interview with Jon coming soon.
How often have you heard somebody talk about the urgent need to change the culture? They want to make it world-class. To dispense with all the nonsense and negativity that annoys employees and stops good intentions from growing into progress. To bring about an entirely different approach, starting immediately. These culture critiques are as common as complaints about the weather — and about as effective. How frequently have you seen high-minded aspirations to “change the culture” actually manage to modify the way that people behave and the way in which they work? And how often have you seen noticeable long-term improvements?
Editor’s Note: This is part one of a two-part post by Garo Reisyan. We’re pleased to feature his leading-edge content on the important subject of Neuro-Organizational Culture. Part two will post in early April.
There is unprecedented evidence regarding the success-relevancy of an organization’s culture. Cooperation, leadership, innovation, mergers and acquisitions, strategy implementation, etc.—virtually everything is deemed to be depending on culture. A culture related competitive advantage is considered to be extremely hard to imitate. According to culture expert Larry Senn, “after 50 years, we’ve got there in terms of people getting that culture makes a difference.”
The Subject Of Culture
Organisational Culture has been a focus for business for more than three decades and demands attention as organisations try to attract talent, overcome low engagement levels, and build their reputations and sustainability. Culture (including organisational culture) reflects in shared meaning, characteristics and behaviour (internally and with the outside world). A workable definition derived from Hofstede for organisations, “it is the mental programming that we inherit from our ancestors and pick up from the people around us.”1 In juxtaposition is Jung on the development of individual character, “The more intensively the family has stamped its character upon the child, the more it will tend to feel and see its earlier miniature world again in the bigger world of adult life. Naturally this is not a conscious, intellectual process.”2
“We don’t have time for the soft stuff” was recently heard in a senior leadership meeting. “Let’s get back to the real work—our budget and strategy for next year.” This team had just been through a training workshop that focused on leadership styles, their impact on the workforce, and the need to shift their behaviors toward more openness and collaboration. Comments on the “soft stuff” have been around for some time. It’s amazing in this time of work complexity, ambiguity, vulnerability, and interdependence, that some leadership still undervalue the importance of the human side of enterprise.