I was thinking about the ways in which organizations can support performance. That is, we can and should be aligning with how we think, work, and learn. So we can provide tools to support us in the moment, we can provide tools to help us work together, and we can develop people all slowly over time. In short, I was thinking about cognitive alignment, and I was going to write about it, but it turns out I already have! However, I also realized that there was an opportunity to extend that to cultural alignment, and I think that’s important as well.
So, one of the things we can do to optimize outcomes is to give people performance support. In particular, we can provide tools to address gaps that emerge from our cognitive architecture. We can also provide policies about things we’re supposed to do. And that’s all good. However, some of that might not be necessary under the right circumstances.
I was thinking about the specific case of acting in ways that are consonant with the values of the organization. For instance, in a well-known upscale department store chain, the staff have the leeway to spend on the order of $1K to address any emerging customer problem. I reckon the store figures that’s the future worth of a happy customer. And that’s acting in alignment with the culture of the organization.
The point I want to make is that by having an explicit culture in the organization, you might not have to provide performance support. If the desired approach is understood, it can be generated from understanding the organization’s value. If you know what’s expected, you can perform in alignment without needing external clues and cues.
There are clear benefits from a learning organization in terms of innovation and employee engagement, but what about the other side? I suggest that the right culture can also benefit the ‘optimal execution’ side. In short, there’s little reason to do aught but begin a move to a more enlightened culture. At least, that’s what seems to me to be the case. How about you?