Culture Caretakers part 2: Custodians

by | Aug 29, 2019 | Change |

Movements of change within organisations can be a bit like the Gartner hype cycle shown below, especially for those leading the change.

Perhaps in a similar journey as in the hype cycle, we set out dreams and visions of grandeur to spur people on, but as reality hits and we are in the midst of the hard slog of the day to day – the conflict, the resistance, the frustration – we, or those around us, can slip into the ‘trough of disillusionment’. If we stick with it and have some luck, we move up towards a new way of working, of being; we create new norms and reach the plateau of productivity.

This is different than the typical innovation adoption bell curve shown outlining the early adopters, majority, and laggards.

Throughout the cycle, throughout the change process, the bell curve can help us see or realise, not everyone is going to be on board with us immediately. The ‘late majority’ may only join us as climb the ‘slope of enlightenment’ and the laggards probably won’t join until we’ve been on the plateau for a while.

And yet, throughout the entire cycle and bell curve, there are likely culture caretakers in each group. But also there will be people who have the courage to raise issues and concerns about behaviours they are seeing and experiencing that are not healthy or helpful. Not people gossiping, but people who have a deep care for the team or organisation and even the change journey, but see and experience unhealthy behaviour and have the courage to call it out. They are the ones who help us see “people like us, do NOT do things like this.” It is easy to dismiss them; easy to overlook the behaviour; easy to be ‘too busy’ to address it.

It takes courage and bravery to call out potential negative changes, especially in the midst of the ‘busy’ and yet the brave ones, these culture custodians, need our ears and our gratitude. When we dismiss these moments, we often prolong our stay in disillusionment or instead of climbing towards enlightenment, we instead turn further downward to the graveyard of ideas.

Photo by Kelly Sikkema


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