Our kids were excited to learn this morning that a new dinosaur species has been discovered in Wales. As we talked about it, my son asked ‘why didn’t we know about it before?’ And my daughter, not to be outdone, chimed in, ‘Dad, why do we keep discovering things about what was already here?’
Good questions. And I almost used the Shrek onion analogy as my answer, but we needed to get them out the door for school.
Often organisations are a bit like history, there is always more to learn. Especially in big organisations. Things exist that we don’t know about – processes, ideas, templates, ‘common sense’, and so on. Things developed over time, in a particular place and time, and then either left buried or simply used quietly.
Change makers need to be both observers and archaeologists seeking to learn from what has gone before. Perhaps not dinosaur hunters, but still very interested in learning from the past. Organisational culture leaves clues about what behaviour is incentivised and what behaviour is discouraged. But also clues of how to navigate culture and how to ‘crack it’ but not ‘break it’.