The disease that afflicts us

Today I ran a brown bag in a large enterprise and told the story of our company discovering agility. To those who stared blankly at me while I evangelised about how different thing can be – what was going through your mind?

I’ve been lucky, in our small company change came easily, but now I understand that look of disillusionment on the faces of those coaches paid handsomely to try to “transform” the enterprise. Management infighting is all, it strangles any initiative that wasn’t invented here.

The politics, the power struggles and the competitive battles knock thinking dead. This deeply engrained cultures provide no room for ideas. They’re laughed off with macho banter. When I talk of how it can be I see longing or cynicism, not open minds or open hearts.

So can big orgs create a culture free of this violence. What might they try?

Learning – I hear “this is how it should be” not “what can we discover?”

Humility – I hear “step up, work harder”, I’ve never heard “this is hard, we’ve much to learn, together we might find the answers”.

Feedback – I hear “we must deliver it all be July” and I wonder if “lets take this a step at a time” might get us further.

Listening – I hear people talking, judging, damning without an interest in what others have to say.

Visibility – I see the people who’ve been appointed leaders protected behind glass walls, able to see people looking busy but hearing nothing of their frustrations or insight.

Reflection – I see a culture based on keeping busy, too busy to see the damage it does.

Support – I see people playing the game, no courage to reflect on why. What support can you offer?

Despite my frustration, I’ll be back for more tomorrow. This is the disease that afflicts us.

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