We are all unique and driven by our own desires, but aren’t there universal forces that drive us all? Don’t we all share universal stories that we accept as true that shape our day-to-day lives and work?
Is it possible that some of those universal stories that we’ve accepted as true are actually not true?
I recognize that to suggest that those stories are not true is to suggest the seeming impossible. And yet, what if?
It’s been said that when we change our beliefs our reality changes. I can speak to this from experience, as I have changed my beliefs many times over and each time my world expands.
I was asked recently from an audience member at a panel I was speaking on what things we can do to move culture forward in an intentional way. This question sounds simple enough, and yet is packed with an essence that strikes to the core of it all.
We know, or at least are coming to know and accept culture as the single most important aspect of an organization that leads to its success or failure. Yet how do we move the needle on culture?
Culture can be viewed as the universal forces that drive us—the forces that are largely unseen and rarely talked about and yet underlie most of our actions. So before we move the needle on culture we need to first come to an understanding of what those forces are to begin with.
Those universal forces are the commonly accepted narratives that we simply never question? Here are some examples and their alternatives:
Common narrative: Businesses exist to make money
Alternative: Businesses make money so that its people can be in service
Common narrative: We work to make money
Alternative: We make money so that we can do the work we love to do
Common narrative: Competition drives efficiency and innovation
Alternative: Collaboration and purpose motivates us to do our greatest work
Common narrative: Hierarchy is a way of creating order and efficiency
Alternative: Empowerment creates an entrepreneurial culture
Adopting alternative narratives such as these can feel like shoving off from the edge of a very large and very deep pool of uncertainty. It feels uncertain and uncomfortable because it’s such a different way of approaching our work.
And yet … changing these commonly accepted narratives is exactly what will move the needle on culture and enable us to create legacy organizations.