"Unwritten" Rules Can Block Change
About 70% of changes in all organizations fail, says research from McKinsey and Company (http://bit.ly/1woQGIJ). Rick Maurer, author of Beyond the Wall of Resistance, cites one of the key reasons: Many organizational cultures function with two opposing sets of rules.
The “official” rules—often appearing on company websites and employee handbooks—are the ones where the organization claims to value innovation, teamwork, inclusiveness, and open communication. The “unofficial” rules—often learned the hard way by those who follow the first set and find themselves in the proverbial doghouse—are change-blockers. They reward conformity, competitiveness, even secrecy. (http://bit.ly/1BS1ijE)
We have, unfortunately, witnessed this too many times. Successful change is enabled by a climate of engagement and dialogue in which new ideas and creative collaboration are encouraged—and not just espoused. Leaders who genuinely want to facilitate change in a world where change is critical to survival must courageously assess whether counter-productive rules exist, and do all in their power to align their organization’s aspirational goals with its real ones.
We want to hear. Can you give us an example of any unwritten rules you have run up against, and how those rules had an impact on organizational change? Join the conversation and click "comments" on our Community of Practice Forum.
9/23/2014 02:40:16 am
One of the main things I have done over the past years is to practice learning what various groups "say" they believe, say they practice, say they value, say they prioritize, say they dislike, etc. etc. but which their behavior is often far different, even the opposite.
9/24/2014 12:02:56 am
Thank you, Dr. Illig, for so generously sharing the insights you have gathered from your lifetime studying and teaching about what you call the "subconscious brain thing." It is fascinating -- and important -- to ponder what the "purple dragons" are in our organizations that prevent positive change from happening.
9/23/2014 03:59:50 am
I'm not sure if others can relate to my particular culture or not, so putting this out to see. :) It seems that no matter what ideas are put forth, the idea matters less than who it comes from. (This relates a bit to the excellent bully discussion recently here.)
9/24/2014 12:11:23 am
Thanks Ann. You have definitely identified what appears to be a deep influence dynamic: People are persuaded by people -- more than information. Sometimes this is quite helpful: We learn to trust a person's character, intellect, and good will and so are more likely to believe what comes from that person. However there is also a toxic element where stereotypes have an undue impact on who people believe. And once we create a negative belief system about a person, it becomes unlikely that the content of what they say will be persuasive to us. We need to be vigilant on both sides of this dynamic.
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