In other news today, the corporate introduced a rule making helmets compulsory for 2 wheeler riders. The rule came in force right after a colleague was tragically killed by a dumper when she was commuting to office on her 2 wheeler.
A knee jerk reaction, which is typical of governments all over the world, is relatively unexpected in the corporate. (Or I am unexpecting too much?). When GPM and EBIDTA rule most decisions, you would expect a plan for the future in place and the right minds leading the team on it.
There’s an important model called the Tools of Cooperation, which basically says people who might not see the foggy future as well as the managers can see it, can be asked to work cooperatively to go in the right direction. Knowing what tools to wield to elicit the needed cooperation is a critical managerial skill.
These tools run along two dimensions—the extent to which members of the organization agree on what they want from their participation in the enterprise, and the extent to which they agree on what actions will produce the desired results. When the situation is not win-win, real or perceived, the use of “power tools”—coercion, threats, punishment, and so on come into play to secure that cooperation.
In this scenario, which was completely unexpected but not entirely unanticipated, we started with an assertion – defining what must be done and how – all 2 wheeler riders wear a helmet. Would it not have been better to build a culture of safety and security instead? How do you tell an average population of 27 years what is good for them in a coercive way? Would it not serve them and theirs better if they practiced it as a part of daily life and routine?
You have to design culture into your environment just we fold it into our family lives — and you have to think about this very very early on. When people work at something and it looks like they are succeeding at it by approaching the task in a certain way, it tends to get repeated. And you begin to form a culture. MIT’s Edgar Schein has described this process as the mechanism by which a culture is built. Culture bring consensus—the high success rate of doing a certain task in a certain way is establishes it. Clayton M. Christensen says that ultimately, people don’t even think about whether their way of doing things yields success. They embrace priorities and follow procedures by instinct and assumption rather than by explicit decision—which means that they’ve created a culture. Culture, in compelling but unspoken ways, dictates the proven, acceptable methods by which members of the group address recurrent problems. And culture defines the priority given to different types of problems.
Minds that lead are the minds from which the customs filter down. The higher up the ladder you go, the more responsibility you have to define a cultural map that will sustain the challenges that can be see and cannot be seen. Knee jerk reactions are best left behind in the labyrinths of officialdom.
Are we heading the same way, into the same maze?