Five Contributors to a Volatile Culture

This article is a coalescence of my direct experience with over 5,000 companies worldwide during a 5 ½ year tenure with a renowned global Institute focused on organizational transformation, along with a decade-long devotion to and study of Yoga as a philosophy and discipline. The concepts referenced here are a conceptual extrapolation of Chitta Vritti and Kleshas as taught by The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali and Light on Yoga by BKS Iyengar.


Walking into a football team (The Patriots), company (Netflix), institution (Harvard) built by and for a strong and vibrant culture, we feel it instantaneously; it’s practically tangible. Culture is not an edict. It’s an aggregate; a sum greater than its parts.





How do we look at our own organizational culture? Everyone wants to point at culture, objectifying, saying, “fix it,” looking for the class, method, operating system or prescription to do the heavy lifting. Few are willing to turn that point inward and recognize the way we each individually add-up to its very existence.


One way to approach a current state observation of your organizational culture is to look at where fluctuations or variations in the mindset exist. Variability commonly reveals itself across these five categories.


Look within yourself and among others for differences in thinking and practice related to:


Standards
The standards or ideals by which work, ideas and values are measured or generally known, as ascribed to evidence, logical inference, or based on the testimony of a trusted authority.
Impressions
The ability to study, admit, and adjust from mistaken views arising from hypotheticals, conjecture, theory, politics, speculation, persuasive personalities and biased perceptions.
Imagination
The likelihood for decisions to be made and plans executed without grounding in factual examination of the reality and experience of what is actually happening at the Gemba.
Rest
The deselection of ideas and experiences in order to marshal energy on the imperative objectives. The ability to let the fruits of labor ripen and drop by wholeheartedly engaging in right (versus hyper) activity.
Memory
Whether the inclination is to shape the next or holding fast to what one has experienced in the past. The appetite for re-creating “how we used to do it,” or establishing presence in the emergent reality of current circumstances.

Variability will 100% exist. Investigate for yourself the correlation between the degree of variability in the collective mindset on these points and the strength of the culture. Here’s why.


At the root of it,



individual behaviors amplify fluctuations in how we organizationally function (think and act) within the boundaries of our company culture.


Contemplate whether the structure (hierarchy and departments) of traditional management nurtures the following traits, and whether revolutionizing the way we work could alleviate them. The behaviors listed below cause fluctuations in the cultural mindset and organizational pain. Contemplate without judgment how and when you express these behaviors, or how you respond when you find them present in others, or find them embedded in the way the organization operates:



Ignorance
or nescience- whether it’s willful or situational, that which remains untapped in ourselves or unobserved, obscured or unconscious to us in our daily work life.
Individuality
Establishing and maintaining physical, mental, intellectual or emotional distinction from the group.
Attachment
The need (or expectation) to be ‘right.’ Blind and unwavering passion for an idea, solution or condition.
Aversion
Resistance with an unwillingness to experiment with new ways of thinking, learning, working and relating.
Clinging
A kind of desperate grip on the comfort of ones’ status and security that clouds judgment and drives self-preservation.


Natural everyday human expressions of ignorance, identity, attachment, aversion and clinging present themselves like the tips of icebergs they are, barely showing above the water yet creating massive waves of variability in how people holistically navigate with respect to standards, impressions, imagination, rest and memory in the organizational mindset: It’s culture.




If culture is the sum of its parts, then our effort and focus necessarily turns from the sum to its parts. To one another. To ourselves. Culture grows out of you and me. Value the enormous insight available in differences, invite feedback on behaviors, working with sincerity and awareness to purify the thinking and actions you apply toward the organizational objectives that matter. “Change yourself, change the world.”



Collaborating with ActioGlobal was one of the best decisions we have ever made. They understand culture as a key part of strategy, and empower people to evolve and learn high performance methodologies that will enable them to achieve sustainable results.

Arantxa García, Danone
For making your best decision, have a video call with us when it suits you best.

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