Inadvertent cultural sabotage occurs when an otherwise positive aspect of a company’s culture legitimises poor followership at moments of change. How could this be useful to you? If you can identify the precise way in which your cultural strengths dig in to preserve the status quo, you stand a much better chance of working with those strengths to introduce new ways of working successfully.
‘Perfection Paradigm’ organisational cultures have taken the virtue of being smart and well prepared too far, to the point where it’s better to pretend to know an answer, or to look like you have something under control, rather than to admit to not knowing, or that a project is struggling.
In such cultures, it really does feel deeply unacceptable to say, “I don’t know,” to declare that some project or deal isn’t advancing to plan, to admit that that someone else might know better, or, heaven forbid, to utter the words, “I may have made a mistake.”
In business as usual situations, where projects are likely to be under control, answers known, and mistakes small, the positive impact of ‘Perfection Paradigm’ cultures on business performance is normally perceived to outweigh the negative aspects.
However, in business as usual at times of extreme pressure, or in any change situation, where, by definition, more is unknown, things are less under control, and mistakes more likely, ‘Perfection Paradigm’ cultures tend to encourage the curation and dissemination of staggering amounts of bullshit. Bullshit has many downsides in the workplace that you don’t need me to remind you of, the one that’s relevant here is its detrimental impact on honesty, the rocket fuel of positive change.
The full list of unintended casualties of a backfiring ‘Perfection Paradigm’ culture is: objective evaluation (all projects are always going well), transparency (whatever is not going well needs to be hidden), and learning from mistakes (no one, in such cultures, ever makes any.)
The concept of inadvertent cultural sabotage underpins Glorious Day’s unique approach (The Inadvertent Saboteur®) to delivering culture change without the drama and cost you’d expect. ‘Perfection Paradigm’ is just one example – we have identified more than thirty over the years, and a specific solution for each.
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