Critical aspects of system design; unpacking the sub-systems and forces in the system map:
What is your color, and how do you bend to fit in, especially with others and their culture, are you a rainbow culture or a solid one with one color?
# 1 – Culture;
Culture is a definition highly misunderstood and misused, thus the need for an explanation:
Culture refers to the following Ways of Life, including but not limited to:
- Language : the oldest human institution and the most sophisticated medium of expression.
- Arts & Sciences : the most advanced and refined forms of human expression.
- Thought : the ways in which people perceive, interpret, and understand the world around them.
- Spirituality : the value system transmitted through generations for the inner well-being of human beings, expressed through language and actions.
- Social activity : the shared pursuits within a cultural community, demonstrated in a variety of festivities and life-celebrating events.
- Interaction : the social aspects of human contact, including the give-and-take of socialization, negotiation, protocol, and conventions.
All of the above collectively define the meaning of Culture.
Then we have Organisational culture;
Organisational culture is an idea in the field of Organisational studies and management which describes the psychology of business theory; all the attitudes, experiences, beliefs and values (personal and or cultural values) of an organisation
With this as background.
We will explore the meaning and “fit” of it, the importance and uses of culture. Specifically organisational culture and its history. Important, and noteworthy, Organisational culture makes up the founding principles on which any organisation was/ is built. It entrenches what the organisation stands for; strives for, hopes for, and we even find an ethnic culture, a religious culture, an ethics culture, all woven into the same fabrication … it does not stop here either…
We even find sub-cultures if we dissect what culture brings; it deal with all the things individuals bring, that lives just under the surface, inspired by; gender, age, a value systems, social status, unionism, and lastly a recreational or social culture or a lack thereof.
All these aspects determine the core energy of the organisation. Energy comes from having a healthy balanced culture. From this energy and diversity we look for: innovation, creativity, leadership, agility and flexibility. We also want to grow an ergonomic working relationship that will lean itself towards, participative management and the need for CRITICAL THINKING and thinkers, to develop synergy of vision, mission, goals and team spirit.
Referred to as the organisational culture, the sum of all the cultures of the enterprise thrown together to form a corporate “VIBE” – or culture. Although it is a sub part of the bigger system, it is a key performance area. A very important part of the systems design, the human element and its dynamic in a system, this aspect can never be underestimated. If there is no discipline, either;
- personal –
- functional –
- and or operational- discipline, then things crumble…
If hierarchy, clashes with culture, then mutual respect disappears from the corporate identity. We will also see disparity in work ethics, or a lack there off. Corporate culture influences the centre point of gravity, which could bring the organisation down if not sound or remedied.
It is not by chance that “Culture” and corporate identity was named as the number one attribute of success for any company, yes “number one”, for it is and should be the first aspect when designing a system to be given a critical review. If this one aspect is flawed at the route, then in essence people do not have the same levels of maturity in mind to see the bigger picture, then it all starts to revolve around me, me, me. Any sense of work ethic disappears, the proverbial “dry wood” appears, people will be slotted into positions they don’t have the capability for. This should be sorted out first, otherwise it will develop, into “bad blood” in the management caucus during the transition phase, because everyone is in this race for himself and I assure you it will carry through into the “new” system. So the old saying of garbage in, garbage out, well it still holds more truth here that what you could ever imagine.
The whole system and systems approach will forever keep struggling to get on to its feet, if the fulcrum it revolves around is weak, namely their “corporate culture”.
The point to make here is, even if you can have the best of the best of all things available too you, and you still do not have a sound corporate culture, it will all boil down to failure.
In order to change organisational culture for the better; you need to make a concerted effort to get to understand what every manager believes in, in every unit. This belief or paradigm will influence the type of culture that cascades from the top, if the top people have bad culture, get rid of them and fast, or influence their perception curvature.
Curvature refers to our personal horizons; the things we believe in, and how we promote this philosophy, how we see people, in relation to dealing with them and how they perceive themselves and view their reality of the organisation, especially at that point where things become future orientated and driven by their own inputs. Then we have friction, conflicting beliefs, views and beliefs. if we can solve this dilemma we are almost home free.
This aspect creates curvature; these curvatures will curve towards right or wrong, this is what you want to tap into. Influences from managers, on strategy and systems design stem from a culture, a belief, and values system they hold onto. This is the point where managers steer the course of corporate curvature. This is where the organisation looks at the horizon that reflects their future as “they” perceive it, influenced by the current way management is dealing with labour, managing resources and resolving or creating conflicting views and other issues.
Curvature is best explained as a rainbow; where every manager has an equal influence when working in harmony – in other words; when the “captains” / managers are creating a good working( corporate) culture, (and not sowing division, by bending curvatiures out of position) then they should be doing well in terms of building culture/ team work, then – they are “in-line with company politics and ethics. Flowing with the cultural curve/ curvature.
However, if they are not in harmony; then they create friction, and they start curving over each other, the influence of which creates a mixed up kaleidoscope, thus changing the color/ karma in the spectrum they are influencing (they impede the way that other mangers operate by interfering) this becomes a way of distorting others curvature. This relates to circumstances that influence people to veer left or right from the required norm, by having to follow the curvature of the influencing manager that is out of synchronisation.
These are the elements of “curvatures” bending, things that dictate how well we (as an organisation or as a person) will be able to:
- Deal with the anxiety of events that fall outside one’s curvature of controlled Influence. Curvature bending is mostly attributed to uncertainty; this makes and causes people to feel out of control, they lose their sense of direction and or become anxious. Then they loose their color. They feel like a tree that has been uprooted by this strong wind of change, very helpless. If management fails to intervene, then it spirals out of control.
- Imminent change of an uncertain nature falls outside the curvature of the norm and standard people were used to, things are now introduced that are no longer routine and known, we hear many managers say; “get them out of their comfort zones”, well here’s the truth. Studies have shown that comfort zones are the most productive sites and platforms for people to flourish in. If management and leaders are doing their intended jobs well, then this should not be a cause for concern, all this kind of talk just conjures up images of “Armageddon”. Beware of this aspect and keep people well informed, well supported and updated.
- Threatening behaviour by management; where people are forced to go outside their own curvature of existence; by management imposing on family values and commitments; thus implying a possible lifestyle change, where they have to make the choice, between more time at work, and less time at home. Where a change in management style causes an actual change that affects their family life and or level of remuneration, all this pulls both at internal and external cohesion. Forcing more time at work and deductions, or scrapping of incentives this breaks morale, and team spirit.
- Attacks on status and or prestige, will bend the persons character. Things that go outside the character curvature, so the person gets forced to go against his character, religious beliefs and or principles. Managers attacking peoples prestige and status, these are tags that people worked hard for and whereby other associate them with the organisation and its structures. Never degrade prestige, or prestigious titles, ranks, rewards and incentives ext.
- A lack of motivation and interest is normally due to depression. Depression and stress are manifestations of disorder within the organisation and or private life, when combined, people feel squashed by their circumstances. A total move outside the reality curvature occurs, that sets in and causes disillusionment, which is passed on to fellow members in the team and family unit. It tends to spread like wildfire; don’t keep people in the dark. Don’t let them hang out in the wind either with empty promises. Never take all the work away from someone that was dedicated and hardworking and now ask him to do the training, or recruiting if it was not his passion. We kill work passion and ethic by splitting up work that belongs together, because it makes sense, but the cause and effect their off never gets focused on. Only the short term results that are obvious and cannot be argued stand as grounds for conformation of this “vindictive” move – defended as a “Strategic move by management” because we do things without consultation and mediation as management because we “can”, thus crushing the futures of people, they have set themselves up to get to their horizon, now it is no longer there. Be sensitive to old “covenants”, they have prevailed for years, and age differences, because of the way they function. People at grass roots, referring to middle management should be given the benefit of the doubt and only by proper orientation and consultation should their suggestions be swayed, in addition, other untested ideas implemented.
- Where new systems, merge with new people, with new ideology, tempers and competition seem to be as fresh as well. Because the new clashing with the old and managers go outside the ambit of good norms and management values curvature. It all has to do with “newness”, where we size up the competition and seek out alliances. Some people value, values, so you need to bring in a value system that is accepted by all concerned. Others value prestige and will do whatever it takes to get it. New managers have the tendency to hide their inability by threatening and screaming and bullying. The fundamental principle of change mangers is mutual respect and empathy and a deep understanding of corporate culture. You attract more bees with honey, than with fire… What ultimately guides groups best is consistent, and good leadership, good command, and control. Someone willing to take critical and crucial decisions of his or her own accord – someone that can create momentum, without creating too much friction… This cannot be done by making stars rise and fall. The defining of true success resides in well-defined common goals that is challenging, if there is no challenge then the goals becomes obsolete. Challenges create excitement and in turn enthusiasm, success is not just measured in monetary terms, or by statistics, but in the ability to overcome as a unit. When creating this condition, there will only be a few that would still want to lead and lead well, call this the grinding process where we sift the weak from the strong, where only the strong of mind and the resilient of character will emerge as victors – and become leaders themselves, because they show resilience. Remember – people make people become stars, managers model them and not the other way around. Power depends on balance and support; so look at what is holding you up and remember that which holds you up, can also pull you down. Managers need to instil abundance, by advocating the rule; “You are only truly successful when you do what you do well consecutively, mainly because you are doing it by choice and through conviction, with the knowledge that what you do has meaning and importance to yourself and others and you can feel the significance and satisfaction by the amount of positive feedback you get and gratitude.” This covers section one on culture; we will still dig deeper into this aspect, however for now we need to understand that the way we design our frame of mind, will impact on the culture directly, which is the flipside to strategy. The point made here is that it is not just the function of strategy to plan but also to regulate corporate culture.
Empowerment of your strategic intent;
This is the first measure;
Finding people with true potential and then developing it along with culture; it is the pursuit of bringing out peoples true color. Some say, that, the greatest wealth of unused potential is to be found in a graveyard.
Well we have many corporations that are dead at the roots as well, resembling graveyards, lots of untapped potential, all color less. because they get overlooked, because of some bias in culture. When formulating your strategy, make sure you always have a “strategic intent committee” of “Culture builders” that have been identified as future candidates, as future leaders within the company to come in at various stages in the development process. we develop culture by developing people alongside with it, as well as leaders. leaders don’t magically appear and become great. They need to be developed, by starting young, as Cadette executives maybe, to give inputs, critique, and perform realignment assignments. This builds the critical element of trust and performance culture, from grass roots up. As well as giving feedback to labour in general, about progress made – perception management – is key to having a good healthy corporate culture, information is power, and kills off other trivial pursuits.
The second measure is to formulate the strategy in stages and at the end of each stage to have a presentation to level the strategic horizon again – so that everyone can see where we are going with this. The second measure or wave; Start up small process, get “people power” going, it is hard to get people into motion. However, if you have a “Need for Speed” then all you have to do is create the catalyst for speeding up processes; “NFS” – Norm, Form and brain Storm. To get that required speed going in the thought-processing department…in order to “Norm, Form and Storm”. One needs to actively invite participation at all levels right through. Nevertheless, you have to “Norm” first. Norming strikes at aligning peoples curvatures, getting people out of each other’s way, this normalises the situation towards open debate; by pushing people into a specific direction and this requires leadership skills.
Thirdly; Aligning curvature. As we discussed previously. Negative curvature creates connotations that stem participation. In addition, clearly explain the need for participation to formulate the scheme. By focusing the points/point for discussion and debate, by drawing up of action items. Keep things and communication structured. The forming of committees and groups may or may not be necessary to keep the continuity and harmony. Now we can start Storming, brain storming, not open debate that deducts from the effort, by interacting with one and other we break down barriers and form working relations. With continued interaction, we build relationships of respect and open judgment and participation. Storming helps eradicate unwanted perceptions by nipping it in the butt and getting it back in context. So if you have a lack of progress, you have to revisit your patterns that create success, the preludes to the big change. Now we need to look at patterns that create success.
More on patterns that create success in this book
Read more on curvature here –
Design challenge to enable integrative comprehension of global dynamics