Crowd intelligence and Culture
A systems intelligence can only be as highly advanced as its culture of communication and collaboration. We see the effects, or consequences of harmony in dysbalance, when we observe large amounts of animals, and the way they move together. Although the swarm looks more chaotic the closer we look, but if we take a stance back, we start to see patterns of movements.
Organizational culture is basically the swarm intelligence of your company. The reason animal swarms don’t bump into each other is because they are better in observing patterns, conditions and perceptions of the animals around them than humans do.
However, there is a lot that we can learn from swarms and transfer it to crowds and their collective intelligence to improve conditions for flow in organizations.
What is culture?
Culture is the “belief-system” that governs employee thinking, feeling and acting. Its purpose is to ensure employee wellbeing, by balancing individual and organizational needs, which is basically the “ability to learn change and adapt to new business challenges.”
Organizational culture is the collected beliefs about what an organization does, how it does it, and why it does it. The more aligned employee’s are on those three questions, the better the culture.
Cultures aligns individual and corporate goals. Only if individuals and the company are happy, both can be sustainably happy.
Why is culture so important?
Culture determines our identity. Our belief systems are the collective perception and manifestation of our hopes and fears. Belief creates will, or disengagement. Culture balances employee thinking, feeling and acting by integrating the three aspects of organizational life: the what we do, how we do it and why we do what we do.
Culture determines how we make decisions and how we solve problems. It enables flow of information, esteem and energy, in the tiny little interactions that happen during a day, and wherever flow is not standardized.
The weaker your culture, the more conflicts (misunderstandings and false assumptions) happen during work.
Flow is also necessary for progress, and the perception progress is necessary for happiness.
If culture is a “belief-system,” culture transformation is the result of a learning process. Previously, organizations have tried to teach employees moral values, in order to make culture explicit. Values like “respect,” “openness,” or “customers first” were categories mentioned in new hire on-boarding processes to illustrate a company’s culture. The problem with those values was however, that they were neither lived, nor precise enough to help in decision making processes, because moral dilemmas frequently occurred, where employees had to prioritize those values or trade one for the other. In addition, mono-directional values don’t provide guidance to the question of “too much” or “too little,” which makes them obsolete in specific decision making processes. For this reason new organizations like Zappos omitted those values altogether and resorted to “common sense” and “good judgement.”
The new way of cultural development and transformation is therefore looking at enabling flow and removing obstacles of flow, rather than establishing rules and guidelines to manage flow.
According to a recent study by Roland Berger Consulting, diversity and integration efforts are seen as one of the top issues organizations are facing today. Diversity adds new perspectives, which is always good for problem solving processes, and only people working together instead of against each other are considered integrated.
The problem with integrating your workforce is two fold. For one, only relaxed structures can be integrated. Fear creates tensions and is therefore the biggest obstacle for integration. Second, only people interested in each other create flow of information, emotion and energy. The two major obstacles of “interest for each other”, which make diversity and integration efforts fruitless are therefore:
- pride, or the belief that I am better than you
- prejudice, or the belief that I cannot learn anything important from you
Pride and prejudice belong to the family of the “perception problems,” and are a cultural issues of an organization.
While “different” people need to be integrated into an organization to enlarge the spectrum of possible solutions, difference creates per se some form of insecurity and fear. This leads to the paradox, that the very people who are expected to be open to learn something new from the people they are afraid of. This classic double bind leads to tensions and increased perception problems, which further deteriorates an organizations culture. The example of this dynamic can currently be observed in the European Union and how it deals with the integration of migrants.
Your company's culture is your operating system.
How do you operate, if 30% of your workforce is not integrated, and another 30% only sometimes?
According to recent studies by Gallup, Deloitte and Aon, employee engagement in organizations slightly improved in 2015, compared to last years polls, but is still far below what could be deemed as successful mode or operation.
We help you understand the importance and dynamics of culture, and what you can do to improve your employees engagement, and develop cultures of learning and changing.
What is the problem with culture?
The problem with culture is, that only 1/3 is visible. We can only observe and measure “what we do” and “how we do it.” 2/3 are however invisible. We cannot directly observe “why” we do something , nor can we observe what we don’t do and how we don’t do something. This is what makes culture tricky.
This is the reason why we have developed a framework and method to make these invisible aspects of culture visible.
What are signs of a weak culture?
Cultures are in and of itself neither good nor bad, they are always both at the same time. However, culture is perceived differently by different people, depending on their previous corporate experience and their perception of how well different value priorities are balanced for the common good.
The question is: Does your culture create burnout, or bore out?
The weaker employees individual belief-systems are, the stronger organizational cultures need to be, to compensate and keep flow stable.
Disengagement is caused by unresolved conflicts or lack of integration between the what, how and why of an organization. The result is either burnout or boreout
Why companies should invest in culture
Investing in culture pays off financially:
One way to save costs is to automate processes. However, not all processes can be operationalized, especially in areas were you have to apply “creative problem solving.” This is the point, were corporate culture becomes your most important lever to your financial balance.
Investing in culture pays off sustainably:
If you have done your homework, there are only 2 things left, which will determine your company’s future success:
- the effectivity of your organisational structures, functions and goals (business agility)
- the effectivity of our employees problem solving and innovation capabilities (employee wellbeing)
Both are determined by your organizational culture. Culture is the glue that holds together “what we do”, “how we do it”, and “why we do what we do.” Culture provides meaning and direction as well as identity and purpose.
We help you understand your organizational culture and the dynamics of change.
Investing in culture pays off individually:
The case for employee wellbeing.
Conflict at the workplace accounts for high rates of sick-leave and psychosomatic problems. Mindfulness to self and others needs to be ingrained in corporate culture.
A strong culture can eliminate moral superiority which causes chronic conflicts and prevents burn-out and bore-out while increasing trust and authenticity on both sides. It increases resilience while helping employees to focus on the most important things without guessing.
Investing in culture pays off collectively:
The case for business agility.
In today’s work environment, change happens so fast and frequently, that we can seldom have all necessary information to make a solid decisions. If we don’t have a lot of information, or no information that we can trust at all, all we have left are our perceptions. Culture determines our perceptions and is therefore a vital piece in every adaptation process.