Monday, 4 October 2010

The Restructure Ritual

I found out from my hairdresser why corporates  continually restructure: it’s a ritual!
I saw the writing on the wall while I was lying back having my shampoo and colour. Kerastase, Paris offers range of rituals. Here’re just a few:
  • Reconstructing Ritual (for after restructure)
  • Strengthening Ritual
  • Rejuvenating Ritual
  • Clarifying Ritual
  • Replenishing Ritual
Judging by the ecstasy  on the faces of the photographed models, these rituals are stunningly effective therapy for people who are at their wits end trying to make something great of hard-to-manage, unruly, dull, lifeless, worn out human assets.
There’s comfort in rituals and they buy time. They’re what you do when you have to do something but can’t think what else to do. They are time honoured practices, their origins typically forgotten, that bring kudos to the priestly caste who administer them: high managers and hairdressers.
Some corporate rituals involve brutal sacrifice for purification and to appease the gods.
The metaphor has many more possibilities which I leave to you to explore. For the moment I simply reaffirm two long-known things: you can learn a lot from your hairdresser, and organisational life is rich in unquestioned rituals that look like action, bring short term gratification and superficial improvement but fail to address the underlying issues.
Despite overwhelming evidence that restructuring almost never achieves improved ROI, corporates keep on doing it.
Let’s face it,  long term success depends on the quality of our interrelationships, but ritual clearly helps us feel better about things without having to actually fundamentally relate any differently.
It’s time to question ritual and make detailed, deliberate changes in the way we interrelate and what we interrelate about.