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The Secret Life of Organizations: Where the Action Is

The secret life is the container for everything that’s most magical and exciting about an organization.

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Shrink-Wrapped in Our Own Thinking:
Thinking That Transforms
Presented by
Ariane David, PhD
Senior Partner
The Veritas Group
California State University, Northridge
ADavid@TheVeritasGroup.com
The Secret Life of Organizations:
Where the Action Is
Shrink-Wrapped in Our Own Thinking:
Thinking That Transforms
There’s no need to remember everything or take amazing notes:
this PowerPoint presentation is posted at
www.theveritasgroup.com
The Secret Life of Organizations:
Where the Action Is
The Life of Organizations
 Understanding culture
– Visible life
– Secret life
 Unlocking the secret life
 Transforming the secret life
Today we’ll focus on…
Organizational Culture and the Secret Life
 Culture influences everything we do and think within the organization.
 Culture extends out to the farthest reaches of the organization
surmounting geographic and social barriers, and it is amazingly
resistant to change.
 Culture is the social container in which everything in an organization
takes place.
 Culture is the greatest hindrance to change but can also be the
greatest help.
Why is there culture and how did it evolve?
 To contain the sum of organizational/societal experience
 To transmit knowledge, norms and values
…and as a result
 To maintain order and the status quo
 To contain group anxiety by fostering predictability
Culture simply happens on its own unless you take the lead.
The Visible Life of Organizations

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The Secret Life of Organizations: Where the Action Is

  • 1. Shrink-Wrapped in Our Own Thinking: Thinking That Transforms Presented by Ariane David, PhD Senior Partner The Veritas Group California State University, Northridge ADavid@TheVeritasGroup.com The Secret Life of Organizations: Where the Action Is
  • 2. Shrink-Wrapped in Our Own Thinking: Thinking That Transforms There’s no need to remember everything or take amazing notes: this PowerPoint presentation is posted at www.theveritasgroup.com The Secret Life of Organizations: Where the Action Is
  • 3. The Life of Organizations  Understanding culture – Visible life – Secret life  Unlocking the secret life  Transforming the secret life Today we’ll focus on…
  • 4. Organizational Culture and the Secret Life  Culture influences everything we do and think within the organization.  Culture extends out to the farthest reaches of the organization surmounting geographic and social barriers, and it is amazingly resistant to change.  Culture is the social container in which everything in an organization takes place.  Culture is the greatest hindrance to change but can also be the greatest help.
  • 5. Why is there culture and how did it evolve?  To contain the sum of organizational/societal experience  To transmit knowledge, norms and values …and as a result  To maintain order and the status quo  To contain group anxiety by fostering predictability Culture simply happens on its own unless you take the lead.
  • 6. The Visible Life of Organizations
  • 7. What makes up culture: visible life.  Tangible artifacts: what we can see, touch, hear, taste, smell  Expressed rules of the Game: espoused norms, standards and values  Mission and vision statements, and all the things we say about ourselves  Conscious/ expressed behavior, language, customs, traditions, shared assumptions
  • 8. What makes up culture: visible life. (cont)  Expressed metaphors and symbols  Organizational knowledge, stories and expressed history  Formal performance plans and measures, rewards and punishment  Formal distribution of power and expressed leadership norms  Sanctioned/formal communication including social media
  • 9. The Secret Life of Organizations
  • 10. The secret life is the container for everything that’s most magical and exciting about an organization.  Creativity  Engagement  Real communication  Commitment …but there’s also a dark side that thwarts these things.
  • 11. What makes up the secret life.  The REAL rules of the Game: actual norms, standards and values  Shared unexpressed basic assumptions, meanings, and metaphors and symbols  What people know  Unsanctioned communication including gossip, un-discussables, and social media
  • 12. What makes up the secret life. (cont)  De facto rewards and punishment  How leaders actually lead, and how power is distributed  What really motivates and de-motivates *  Hidden individual and group dynamics *  Hidden organizational thinking including how we solve problems, handle conflict, and make decisions *
  • 13. Hidden Demotivators  Poor work conditions  Poor salary  Poor relationship with supervisor  Poor relationships with peers  Management characteristics of supervisor  Lack of career future  Meaningless or unsatisfying work The absence of demotivation does not equate to motivation
  • 14. Hidden Motivators  Trust in managers/fairness  Opportunity to be creative  Personal responsibility and autonomy  Meaningful work  Personal values that correspond to organizational values  Sense of relationship  Recognition
  • 15. Thinking in the Secret Life of Organizations
  • 16. Hidden Organizational Thinking  What we say vs. what we do  Organizational defense patterns (hiding failure and errors) – Undiscussables – Blame (the buck flies around) – Mixed messages and fancy footwork  Groupthink, group shift, and conformity
  • 17. Positional Thinking Major thinking errors in organizations.  Tyranny of Knowledge  Zero-sum Illusion  Baboon Trap  Lost Key Dilemma
  • 18. Tyranny of Knowledge  Choosing existing knowledge simply because it’s the knowledge we have.  Doing what worked in the past only because it worked in the past, without examining how appropriate that strategy is in light new information.  It includes assuming the future will be like the past.
  • 19. Zero Sum Illusion  Believing that there is a limited amount of “solution”, including “either/or” and “fixed position” thinking.  Distributive bargaining.  Politics today.
  • 24. Baboon Trap  Thinking for the short term, not how current actions lead to future outcomes. Ex. Tragedy of the commons, Hawaiian mongooses  Seeing only parts, but not how they’re related or how they form a whole, including shifting the burden. Ex. Auto manufacturers; the “gap”  Seeing only symptoms but not the underlying causes  Attachment to unworkable situations. Ex. Our LIVES!
  • 25. Lost Key Dilemma Looking for information/solutions/answers somewhere only because that’s where the information is easy to access. Not everything that can be counted counts; not everything that counts can be counted. (Variously attributed to Albert Einstein, W. Edwards Deming and a half dozen others)
  • 26. The Secret Life and Organizational Learning
  • 27. Two Kinds of Organizational Learning  Adaptive Learning: Non-learning Organization How to avoid pain and get pleasure • Based in fear • Uses blame to succeed • Purpose is survival (groupthink) • Defensive (organizational defense patterns, blame)  Generative Learning: Learning Organization Learning is its own reward • Based in curiosity and openness • Uses accountability to succeed • Purpose is growth and self-expression • Creative
  • 28. Non-Learning Organization: Positional (Adaptive) Problem Solving BLAME Problem Fear Blame / Fault DefensivenessDenial Distorted Information Ineffective Action / No Learning Fear /Blame No learning can take place in the space of blame.
  • 29. Learning Organization: Non-Positional Problem Solving Problem Quality information and communication CollaborationEffective action Organizational learning Openness / Curiosity Accountability Mistakes are the price we pay for learning.
  • 30. Changing Organizations and the Secret Life
  • 31. Changing organizations by transforming the secret life.  If you want to create permanent change you need to transform the culture to support it.  But first you need to unlock the secret life Culture transformation can be intentional or unintentional.
  • 32. Unlocking the Secret Life: Thinking non-positionally  Realize/acknowledge that you don’t know what’s going on  Decide what it is you want to know and why  Approach your research with curiosity not certainty  Sleuth out the situation – Observables vs. assumptions – Organizational “habits” that are implicated – Hidden organizational thinking and thinking errors – Think of analysis as building the story line Breakout: Figuring out the problem
  • 33. Figuring Out the Problem: Breakout  What is the problem? – Observables vs. assumptions What are the actual behaviors? – Human dynamics that are involved – Organizational “habits” that are implicated – Hidden organizational thinking and thinking errors ✪ – How the culture keeps it all in place
  • 34. Hidden Organizational Thinking  What we say vs. what we do  Organizational defense patterns (hiding failure and errors) – Undiscussables – Blame (the buck flies around) – Mixed messages and fancy footwork  Groupthink, group shift, and conformity ✪
  • 35. Hidden Organizational Thinking ✪ Major thinking errors in organizations.  Tyranny of Knowledge  Zero-sum illusion  Baboon trap  Lost Key dilemma
  • 36. Transforming the Secret Life  Clearly define where you are now (what you figured out about the secret life)  Clearly define where you want to be  For each change that you want to introduce, ask – What cultural “habits” need to be created in order to support them? – What cultural “habits” need to change? – What are the behaviors associated with these “habits” and how can we minimize them? How can we strengthen the behaviors we want or change those we don’t? (more on this in a moment)  Identify “resistance”
  • 37. Transforming the Secret Life (cont.)  Define a strategy for the change including how to overcome cultural obstacles and resistance, and reinforce allies*  Include how to engage people – Communication: up and down – Ask for people’s ideas – Find out what people need – Find out what really motivates them  Be consistent in upholding changes
  • 38. Change, the Secret Life and Resistance
  • 41. Overcoming Resistance News Flash! Resistance is an illusion - it does not exist.
  • 42. Overcoming Resistance News Flash! Resistance is an illusion - it does not exist. Only reactions to change exist.
  • 43. Reactions to Change  All change generates a reaction that either reinforces the change or pushes back on it.  When it reinforces it’s called an ENABLER.  When it pushes back it’s called a RESISTOR. Resistors create resistance.  Resistance to change cannot be managed by bull-dozing it. The only way to deal with resistance is to understand what lies beneath, and work with that. News Flash! It is not human nature to resist change or fear the unknown.
  • 45. Reactions to Change How, then, do we deal with resistance?
  • 46. Reactions to Change  Resistance is a natural, inevitable and unavoidable human reaction to disruption.  How much of it we have relates to the size of the disruption and the way in which it is being handled.  Begins immediately when people become aware of the change.  Is neither good nor bad.  Is expressed overtly or covertly.
  • 47. Managing Resistance to Change: Non-Positionally  Don’t assume you know what’s going on. Resistance is very rarely what we think it is.  Identify specific resistors: people, conditions, fears, motives (think “fruit”)  Identify the underlying causes of each of these resistors.  Identify specific enablers.  Make a Force Field Analysis for resistors and enablers.  Find ways of weakening resistors and strengthening enablers.
  • 48. Change Force Field Analysis Resistors (weaken resistors)  List RESISTORS and assign a value from 1 to 6, 6 being strongest Enablers (strengthen enablers)  List ENABLERS and assign a value from 1 to 6, 6 being strongest 5 4 3 2 1 ITEM ITEM 1 2 3 4 5
  • 49. Creating a Culture from “Scratch” TOPRAK: A mind experiment.
  • 50. Shrink-Wrapped in Our Own Thinking: Thinking That Transforms Questions/Comments/Feedback Ariane David, PhD The Veritas Group Additional Information ADavid@TheVeritasGroup.com www.theveritasgroup.com The Hidden Life of Organizations Where the Action Is

Editor's Notes

  1. Our current way of thinking is based on assumptions that are grossly erroneous.
  2. Sufi story
  3. What do I think is so? This is tricky. We think we know what we think but it’s important to break it into all of its components. Ex: I think the job isn’t getting done. I think joe is stupid. I think joe has bad intentions. Etc. CONGRESS STREET BATS
  4. Non-positional thinking is an ideal. As long as we live within our constructed universe being guided by schemas we will never be non-positional. However, in striving for it we become powerful thinkers.
  5. Non-positional thinking is an ideal. As long as we live within our constructed universe being guided by schemas we will never be non-positional. However, in striving for it we become powerful thinkers.
  6. New born infants have no differentiation of self or other…no sense of I and you, no a sense of we. Rather they live in a state of undifferentiated being. As time passes we start developing a model of the world that to the individual IS the real world, that allows us to explain and predict the world. Without it we’d have no way to function. We come to believe, not that this model is only MY explanation of the world, but that the my mode lIS the world. All we perceive is assessed based on the constructed universe. As time goes on it becomes our cocoon or jail.
  7. New born infants have no differentiation of self or other…no sense of I and you, no a sense of we. Rather they live in a state of undifferentiated being. As time passes we start developing a model of the world that to the individual IS the real world, that allows us to explain and predict the world. Without it we’d have no way to function. We come to believe, not that this model is only MY explanation of the world, but that the my mode lIS the world. All we perceive is assessed based on the constructed universe. As time goes on it becomes our cocoon or jail.
  8. Our current way of thinking is based on assumptions that are grossly erroneous.
  9. The dots on this slide bring to light a mental model. Most people see a circle even though whet is depicted is really a group of unconnected dots arranged in a circle. Our minds, upon seeing the array of dots will choose the most prominent and simple mental model to determine what figure the dots make up…