Mind Your Memes
In 1976 Biologist Richard Dawkins likened the proliferation of cultural symbols, ideas, and behaviors to the organic process through which genetic coding is passed across generations. Dawkins called these units of cultural information memes. This article will focus on the negative end of the continuum, examining four memes that often rear their ugly head during change efforts.
1) That’s not how we do things here. This meme is as old as time and while we’d like to believe that within the post-bureaucratic organizational world it’s been relegated to history’s garbage heap, unfortunately, it’s still alive and kicking. Sometimes the ways “things are done around here” are indeed hardwired into policies, procedures, union contracts, etc. But more times than not, once you see this meme it’s being offered by someone who is attempting to derail a change they do not accept as true with. Deflecting this meme is usually quite easy. When someone offers it up, ask them to point out you were within the company policies, union agreement, etc. that this amorphous/elusive “thing” is found. you will be amazed by how briskly this meme is dropped when it’s held under the microscope!
2) Which will never work. is usually |this can be”> this is often a variant of the above and is often offered hand-and-hand with the “that’s not how we do things here” meme. This meme is tougher to affect because it deals with some speculative future state. Whenever we affect a future state, there’s obviously a big degree of uncertainty. Individuals offering this meme try to maximize this cloudiness and thereby tap into their co-workers’ risk aversion. Remember, when handling this meme, your goal isn’t to vary the mind of the person offering it (which is usually a waste of your time and effort), but rather you’re trying to convert the critical mass of parents on your team who are yet infected.
3) We’ve tried that before and it didn’t work. More of the above, but this point it’s the apparent authority of past failures to bolster the virility of the meme. once you run into this meme, you’ll actually question whether the thought is sweet or not yourself. In fact, this meme is sort of often a game stopper. The trick to overcoming this meme is to spot some reasonable people on your team and run through the method with them. The approach here is to articulate to those folks that you simply are very hooked into your change and you would like help understanding its lack of viability before abandoning thereon.
During the method your goal is threefold. First, you ought to determine the maximum amount about the previous attempt as possible. especially, search for aspects of the past effort that aren’t analogous with what you’re attempting to try to to. Don’t tip your hand during this fact-finding effort as this information are going to be much more powerful later if you opt to maneuver forward with the project. Second, you ought to enlist these folks in identifying potential solutions to the issues (perceived or real) together with your proposal. Again, this may yield tremendous insights (especially in terms of what the foremost common objections will be) which will assist you later if you opt to press on.
4) “They’ll” never choose that. Oh, this meme is gorgeous insofar as there are numerous “they’s” which will be offered up. Upper management won’t approve it. Other departments won’t support it. Employees will never accept it. Customers won’t embrace it. Suppliers won’t love it. Do any of those sound familiar? This meme can have you ever running around in a circle if you let it. The trick is to not let it!
To guard against this meme, you would like to first determine how widespread it’s. If only a couple of team members are infected, then you’ll probably invest your efforts on everyone else and ignore those that offer it up. If you’ve reached the plague level, then your best antidote is to bring some “they’s” into the method. If “they” were indeed against the change, you’ll be ready to co-opt or assuage them through inclusion. you furthermore may determine that “they” never had a drag with it within the first place!