It’s easy to get bogged down thinking, plotting, and strategizing how to create the world we want, or the business or organization that becomes a legacy. Libraries of books have been written about how to achieve utopianism, universal balance, peace, harmony, and goodness in the world. So too with the drive to build amazing organizations, the ones we recognize as having strong cultures and well-respected brands.
The principle of Occam’s razor says that of competing explanations usually the more simplistic answer is the correct one. This concept is typically used in science, yet bears relevance to the question of how to create the world we want socially, economically, and environmentally.
Could it be as elegantly simple as just one small change? Could it be that the answer we’ve been looking for is as small and seemingly insignificant as pulling a very small lever on a very large machine, or throwing the smallest of stones into the largest of ponds? Could it be as simple as changing one very small belief system in our minds of myriad notions and ideas to create a cascading effect that over times becomes felt in every area of our lives and work?
It’s not that we say, “Here is the culture we need to have.” or “Here’s how to change things.” or “This is how it’s done.” What I’m suggesting is significantly simpler. I’m saying that all we need to say is, “Culture is important.” Or better still, “Culture is the single most important thing for us to focus on.”
If we make culture our number one priority then we are committing ourselves to a life-long process of asking questions about how our decisions, actions, and conduct relate to culture. We ask of each action, “Does this potentially affect culture in a positive way or a negative way, or maybe we don’t yet know?” Or “How does this decision effect culture?” Or “How does this approach effect culture?”
If we ask these questions then we are moving the needle in a positive direction because we are becoming more conscious in our decision-making and considering broader objectives with everything we do. If we are continually focusing on culture then we are continually striving to take a much broader perspective than merely the effects on self—we are considering the effects on others, and more broadly on everyone.
All it takes is just one small change, tossing the smallest of pebbles, moving the smallest of leavers to shift our course from self to the collective. All we have to do is believe that everything flows from culture.
Tip of the Week
The only challenge to pulling the lever on culture is that changing strongly held belief systems is not easy. So here’s a suggestion. Take a belief that you hold strongly, but that is not very important to your life one way or another. Some examples: ice cream tastes good, Dodge trucks rule over Ford trucks, one sports team over another, I like pizza, OJ Simpson is guilty, blue ink is better than black, and so on. Pick just one and then endeavor, even better, become a vehement proponent of the opposite of your view. Hold conversations with people, tell your significant other, fully own this new belief to the core of your being and communicate it whenever you get the chance. You might just find it fun and engaging. More importantly you’ll be loosening the glue that binds steadfast beliefs so you can get ready to try it with something more important and useful to your life, like the purpose of your work in the world.