Friday, March 29, 2019

When Cultural Fit works against an organization

The strongest corporate cultures are the most challenged. In Originals, Adam Grant got to know one of these companies well. Here are some of my highlights from reading about that:
it’s sometimes better to encourage people to complain about problems than to solve them

Dissenting opinions are useful even when they’re wrong.

The evidence suggests that social bonds don’t drive groupthink; the culprits are overconfidence and reputational concerns.

When I polled executives and students about the strongest culture they had ever encountered in an organization, the landslide winner was Bridgewater Associates.

In a typical organization, people are punished for raising dissent. At Bridgewater, they’re evaluated on whether they speak up—and they can be fired for failing to challenge the status quo.

If you’re going to build a strong culture, it’s paramount to make diversity one of your core values.

This is what separates Bridgewater’s strong culture from a cult: The commitment is to promoting dissent.

In hiring, instead of using similarity to gauge cultural fit, Bridgewater assesses cultural contribution.

Whereas people doubt assigned dissenters, genuine dissenters challenge people to doubt themselves.

If you’re always expected to have an answer ready, you’ll arrive at meetings with your diagnosis complete, missing out on the chance to learn from a broad range of perspectives.

To make sure that problems get raised, leaders need mechanisms for unearthing dissenters.

As management scholar Karl Weick advises, “Argue like you’re right and listen like you’re wrong.”

It’s not just Dalio’s openness that makes people comfortable challenging senior leaders. It’s the fact that early in the training, employees are encouraged to question the principles. Rather than waiting for employees to become experienced, Bridgewater reveals that we can start encouraging originality on day one.

We have lots of categories to describe people’s personalities, but few frameworks for describing the personalities of situations.

“The number one principle is that you must think for yourself.”
Source: Originals, emphasis and links added

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