Monday, December 1, 2014

Collective Belief

The culture of any group or community really derives itself from the beliefs of the collective of the individuals, and are are more often based on the transfer of a "convincing story".

It can be true therefore In organisations where this can come from an underlying belief in the sometimes "unwritten" mission statement.

It takes a strong and convincing alternative story therefore to change the culture not just a set of words drafted in a brainstorming session.

So how do you develop this? Firstly take a hard look at your own actions and words. The ones you espouse when no-one is looking!. What you believe will come out in both your behaviour and responses. So is it time to honestly put on the table what you believe?

At the outset, this can prove difficult if a fundamental belief you have runs counter to the corporate values that are being espoused. This may purely be a belief that a counter culture pervades or a "perverse incentive" exists that blocks any move to shift current culture.
If this is true then you will constantly be under significant stress and will never change the culture or achieve the outcomes you desire until you table these beliefs openly whilst allowing them also to be challenged.

If leaders are not prepared to put their position on the line for what they believe then their actions will betray them eventually if not immediately and no amount of pretending the will change it. 
"Fake it till you make it" just doesn't work.

I watch many organisations struggle to engender a "preferred culture” whilst ignoring the discussion around what they “believe” and what their employees “believe”.

Before you embark on the values and culture journey or even set your strategy, take some time to discuss the "collective beliefs” that exist within your people and in your customer base. What are the common ones? What are those that will simply block any shift to a desired state? Which ones are “real” and which ones are “false"

Which beliefs are influenced by "convincing stories" pervading within your organisation? Which ones did people bring with them.

From this understanding you will be in a far better place to identify what you can, or even need, to influence. What convincing stories are able to be told and "what makes them convincing".

What stories have influenced your beliefs? Are they still convincing? Are you prepared to challenge them yourself before you go out and attempt to provide a convincing story to others? Will they stand up to challenge? 

Christopher Columbus was convinced the world was round and his actions followed that belief. How would his journey have been affected if his crew believed it was flat? Was there a convincing story told here?

The thing about the word “convincing” it usually relates to evidence based experiences. If you or your people have overwhelming experiences that underpin their beliefs then you need to ensure that these are openly surfaced. From here a convincing story can then be written together. One that will have a firm foundation and demonstrate itself in actions and voice without coercion and something that the organisations people “value” and convince others.

You may even decide that the culture you are trying to influence doesn’t need to change, it just needs to be harnessed!

It starts with you however.

Whats the "unwritten story" being told by you, and is it convincing?
Did you bring it with you or did you hear it somewhere?
Are you prepared to write it?

Are you prepared to hear another story?

1 comment:

  1. Well put, I appreciate your turn of phrase on what is a quickly assumed but quite difficult to achieve.
    If leaders and leaders in traiing re your audience I hope they will stop and work through the questions in the company of others, best to verify and also discovere the edge at which your beliefs don't provide roadaccess to tothers.