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Continuing from the last post, we move on to question two of Cultural Beliefs : How stable and supported have those beliefs been?

This question looks at the strength of beliefs from two perspectives:

Stability

This refers to the equilibrium of the belief or set of beliefs. Are they capable of remaining steady or returning to their original condition during or after times of disturbance?

Beliefs that are both strong and supportive of the business objectives contribute to the sustenance of a performance culture. Steadiness does not require that a belief remains the same over a long period only that it remains in alignment with the objectives. Stability further contributes to buy-in. Stable belief systems that underlie the culture and are in alignment with the objectives are the best-case scenario for coaching newcomers in to the culture you want.

A useful probe to confirm the concept of something being stable is to question under what circumstances it would not be – do a little reverse engineering on the question: An unstable set of beliefs would look like…chaos; as if everyone is working towards a different outcome; as if no one knows the answers…

Get down to the core beliefs by reading the physical evidence backwards, measuring them in a more coherent way by looking at what is going on. Once you determine what an unstable set of beliefs would look like, you can flip those answers to see what stability looks like.

Why bother to go through this process of unpacking and packing?

Modern cognitive psychology tells us that we have a tendency to simplify things through automaticity and integration. Our brains create efficiencies through assumptions. This may be one of the reasons we have a tendency to attribute intention – we read the circumstances, assign motive, and characterize the experience based on assigned motives and intentions. We can assume stability or instability erroneously. The reverse and rebuild forces us to look closely at the belief, and its component parts, looking for the fundamental values that make up the overall beliefs. This full picture provides a more reliable test for the equilibrium of the belief or set of beliefs.

If you were to change those assumptions and attribute a neutral or positive intention…would that change your experience?

The experience here is of the culture being stable – not the environment.

Support

When we speak of support, we are looking at the functional, human side and the knowledge and application of tools, methods, and procedures.

Does the infrastructure provide for the functions, tools, methods, and processes that will:

  • Foster the set of beliefs that will contribute to the overall organizational objectives – providing the information that will allow the systematic and logical buy-in
  • Clearly define what is required so that it is easy for both individuals and groups to determine what the culture requires of them – policy manuals, directives, clear communications, frank discussions on expectations
  • Provide the positive pressures required for compliance – rewards, checks and balances
  • Create a clear roadmap for the outcome of the beliefs
  • Measure the effectiveness of the core beliefs and their alignment; providing for course correction where required
  • Identify and develop the belief “champions”

Where does this leave the Big 3?

It appears clear from an outside perspective that their individual core beliefs are neither stable nor supported. As they look to navigate through their current crisis, they should be probing deeply into the stability and infrastructure of their belief systems and their alignment with their business objectives. The comparisons to car companies like Toyota are frequently drawn, but the beliefs, culture and objectives at Toyota are so strongly guarded and supported it is hard not to make that comparison. Check out The Toyota Way. Whether you agree with their beliefs and culture, you cannot argue with the fact that Toyota is currently the only automobile company actively opening plants in Ontario, while we watch the Big 3 disintegrate.

Strong, stable and supported beliefs contribute effectively to the overall performance and toward business objectives; at least on car company is proof.