Last week I attended a webinar that got me thinking. The focus of the webinar was organisational culture and the relationship of Unwritten Ground Rules (UGRs) and the locus of control.
UGRs according to Steve Simpson are “the way we do things around here” They are frequently unspoken and unconscious and more form habits which in turn influence the behaviours of individual in organisations. As an extension of this I went on to think about how they formed part of the psychological contract between people in the workplace. That contract is often not overted either and when breached causes angst, feelings of being let down etc. So if UGRs are habits that influence people’s behaviours then they are most likely patterns of thinking and understanding which manifest themselves as behaviours.
Linked with the notion of UGRs is the locus of control of individuals. Now we do not mean micro management but rather the extent for which people take responsibility for their own feelings, thoughts and achievements. People with a positive and high level of internal locus of control tend to foster positive UGRs so the culture in turn becomes a positive one. People with an external locus of control ie one where everyone else and events are responsible for what happens tend to foster negative culture and negative UGRs ie ones of blame and lack of responsibility.
So the question remains is how to change organisational culture? A complex issue and belongs in the complex domain. I would suggest that rather than tackling organisational culture per se and with usual linear responses, that multiple probes experiments are conducted to disrupt people’s thinking patterns. We do not know exactly what will work but the use of De bono thinking tools and some of the Cognitive Edge techniques would be a good place to start. This then has the potential to disrupt and change habits and therefore behaviours and therefore the negative UGRs. And those that create the most disruption we continue with and those which have no effect we discontinue!!!
And finally when discussing this with a friend who I suggested had a high internal locus of control, their response was “ I feel I am a pelagic soul in life’s currents awaiting the plankton of experience to nurture my needs”. High internal locus of control or not??????