One Apple A Day #894 – everyone has the power

Everyone has the power to affect the direction of an organization.

from Be The Change cards by Vanessa Jane Smith

A few weeks ago, I wrote about the “hold on” attitude I often noticed in many contexts in this pandemic era. I’m aware, though, that it’s not just due to the pandemic. How many people do you hear complaining about how things are and expecting someone or something to solve everything in one go?

This attitude has a name, the Silver Bullet Syndrom. It is the belief that one big change – a new tool, methodology or structure – will miraculously or magically solve all problems.

Unfortunately, not only this assumption is almost invariably wrong. It also creates a sort of paralysis holding back people from seeing all the many small changes they could implement. Sure, a little initiative won’t change much, but the results can be remarkable when many small changes compound.

I notice this often in organizations. 

Unhappy people waiting for their leader to magically solve everything. Only to be disappointed most of the time, even when a big change happens.

Benjamin Hardy suggests that we should design our behaviours on our future self. That means understanding who we want to become tomorrow and begin today to act as if we were already that person. This way, our behaviours will shape our personality.

However, in his book Principles of Topological Psychology, published in 1936, psychologist Kurt Lewin defined a simple yet powerful equation: Behaviour is a function of the Person in his or her Environment, or B = f (P,E)

So, as we design our behaviours on the person we want to become, we should also develop them according to the environment we want to shape. 

Just try asking yourself the following questions.

How is the company or environment in which I want to work? 

What are the key behaviours or habits in such an environment? 

What is holding me back from implementing these behaviours or habits today?

And then go for it. Act as if you were already working in your dream organisation. It won’t change things instantly, obviously, but give it enough time, and it will change everything for you and others.

Remember, every action you take is a vote for the type of organization you wish to work in.

Image from Be The Change cards.

One Apple A Day #679 – organizations or organisms

“A different ideal for organizations is surfacing. We want organizations to be adaptive, flexible, self-renewing, resilient, learningful, intelligent – attributes found only in living systems. The tension of our times is that we want our organizations to behave as living systems, but we only know how to treat them as machines.” — Margaret Wheatley, Finding our Way

When I read these words from Margaret Wheatley, the first image that came to my mind, is one of a shift from organizations to organisms.

An organization is an organized group of people with a particular purpose. 

An organism is a system consisting of interdependent parts. 

These are just the first two definitions that I pick from the web.

Maybe it’s one of my biases, but when I think about an organization, my focus goes to all the parts that make it work. As if the organization is something that grows outside and between the people who are part of it. It’s an image of separation. 

The image of an organism is one of wholeness. The strength of the organism comes from the interdependence of the parts. There is no separation from the parts and the whole. The organism’s growth happens both inside and outside people. 

I’m not sure about what to do with these thoughts. But I know words are powerful and shape reality. So, maybe, if I begin to use a different word for the initiatives in which I’m involved, new ways of working together may emerge.