Culture consists of the shared expectations around how to feel, think and behave to FIT IN.
For example, in some organizations, it is a shared expectation for people with formal power to have all the “right” answers. As a result, team members with no formal power or lower down the ranks, keep their ideas and opinions to themselves to FIT IN.
Fitting in is only half of the equation if you aim to have a truly healthy culture. If your culture is focused on getting people to fit in, it’s highly likely that your culture has calcified and you won’t be able to keep up with the changes around you.
So, what is the second part of the equation?
In my research, I discovered that leaders, teams, and companies that shape cultures in the most powerful manner, move comfortably along the conformity spectrum, oscillating between fitting IN and fitting OUT.
They respect and value the current culture, understanding that it serves an important purpose and they conform to those cultural norms that don’t interfere with theirs and their organization’s ability to fulfill its mission.
However, when they have a sense that some of the norms stand in the way of what the group or the company is trying to achieve and the mission it’s supposed to serve, they don’t hesitate to challenge the status quo and disrupt those behavioral patterns that don’t serve them anymore.
It doesn’t make any sense to try to overhaul the whole culture. It’s not possible, either. What’s possible is identifying the most relevant part of the cultural algorithm and then looking for bugs – things that work against you and your goals. And as soon as you identify the bugs, you can debug the algorithm so that it works for you, not against you.
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