Corporate Culture Is . . .

Men do not attract what they want, but what they are

As a young man I picked up a copy of a little book by James Allen, As A Man Thinketh.  I stuffed it in my backpack and finally pulled it out on the Greyhound bus heading home from college for the Thanksgiving holiday.  In the glow of the overhead reading light I read this amazing little book three times during the long bus trip. To me that evening on the bus was an epiphany and gave me a fundamental principle that has guided my business consulting, and my personal life ever since.

The lesson is very simple:  our thoughts create our reality.  Not physical reality, but our psychological reality, what we believe and how we feel about ourselves, other people and the world around us.  And what we believe obviously drives our behavior which in turn influences the results we create.  Sounds fairly straightforward and at a simplistic level it seems like all you have to do is “think positive thoughts” and everything will turn out wonderful.

But it doesn’t really work that way, does it? When we delve a little deeper into how the human mind works we learn that only 5% of our thoughts are conscious while  the vast majority of our thinking takes place at the subconscious level.  Most people are totally unaware of the thoughts going through their mind at any given time.  So trying to consciously think “positive” thoughts won’t really shift behavior much if the majority of the time our subconscious thoughts are giving an entirely different message.

Every action and feeling is preceded by a thought

What’s all this got to do with business performance you must be wondering?  Quite a lot actually because Corporate Culture resides in the unconscious habitual thoughts of employees. A few presentations on corporate values or executive speeches on vision are akin to addressing the 5% conscious thinking.  During the presentation heads nod, a few people promise to do better, then it’s back to work and the unconscious thoughts take over.  “My boss is such a jerk!  Nobody cares if I have a good idea or not. I can’t wait to go on my break. Customers are so difficult, etc etc etc.”

And that’s the problem with most culture change programs  They target the conscious, logical thought processes, but miss impacting the real cause of the culture; the habitual and collective unconscious thought patterns of employees. In most cases the business would be better off using the money spent on culture trainings to redecorate the employee lounge.

Corporate culture can only be changed from the “inside out”.  Until all of us, executives, managers and employees accept the accountability for the current culture (it’s a product of our collective beliefs and thoughts) a shift in culture will elude us.

Organisations do not attract what they plan, but what they believe about those plans.

Tight Lines . . .

About johnrchildress

John Childress is currently Visiting Professor in Strategy and Culture at IE Business School in Madrid and a pioneer in the field of strategy execution, culture change, executive leadership and organization effectiveness, author of several books and numerous articles on leadership, an effective public speaker and workshop facilitator for Boards and senior executive teams. In 1978 John co-founded The Senn-Delaney Leadership Consulting Group, the first international consulting firm to focus exclusively on culture change, leadership development and senior team alignment. Between 1978 and 2000 he served as its President and CEO and guided the international expansion of the company. His work with senior leadership teams has included companies in crisis (GPU Nuclear – owner of the Three Mile Island Nuclear Plants following the accident), deregulated industries (natural gas pipelines, telecommunications and the breakup of The Bell Telephone Companies), mergers and acquisitions and classic business turnaround scenarios with global organizations from the Fortune 500 and FTSE 250 ranks. He has designed and conducted consulting engagements in the US, UK, Europe, Middle East, Africa, China and Asia. Currently John is an independent advisor to CEO’s, Boards, management teams and organisations on strategy execution, corporate culture, leadership team effectiveness, business performance and executive development. John was born in the Cascade Mountains of Oregon and eventually moved to Carmel Highlands, California during most of his business career. John is a Phi Beta Kappa scholar with a BA degree (Magna cum Laude) from the University of California, a Masters Degree from Harvard University and was a PhD candidate at the University of Hawaii before deciding on a career as a business entrepreneur in the mid-70s. In 1968-69 he attended the American University of Beirut and it was there that his interest in cultures, leadership and group dynamics began to take shape. John Childress resides in London and the south of France with his family and is an avid flyfisherman, with recent trips to Alaska, the Amazon River, Tierra del Fuego, and Kamchatka in the far east of Russia. He is a trustee for Young Virtuosi, a foundation to support talented young musicians. You can reach John at john@johnrchildress.com or john.childress@theprincipiagroup.com
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One Response to Corporate Culture Is . . .

  1. Pingback: Life Lessons . . . from Tragedy | John R Childress . . . rethinking leadership

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