Creating Reliability Through Rituals

By Jake Friedman, Consultant

Over the last couple blogs we’ve shared stories of how our client companies have relied on their culture to provide a stable foundation and a guide for decision-making during the current crisis.

So what is it about practicing Fundamentals that makes a culture so sturdy, that makes it so ingrained, that even in these unprecedented times it remains reliably unchanged, even if everything else around us is changing?

The key is in the ritualized practice of the behaviors that define your culture. In fact, our Founder/CEO here at HPC, David Friedman, says the idea of using rituals is one of the simplest yet most impactful things he’s ever learned. For me, I first recognized the transformative power of ritualized practice while training to become a U.S. Army paratrooper.

The power of ritualized practice

In early 2008 I attended “jump school” at Ft. Benning, GA, in order to learn how to successfully parachute out of an airplane. To prepare for this exciting yet somewhat terrifying act, we practiced over and over again using a series of rituals.

We learned a series of choreographed steps, from how we strapped on our gear and parachutes before boarding the plane, to how we stood up and walked out an open door in mid-flight; from what we did in the air to ensure our parachute opened, to, crucially, how to land safely. We practiced the same steps, in the exact same way, using the exact same movements and verbal cues, over and over again, every day. The idea was to ingrain in us the actions and behaviors that would allow us to successfully navigate the potential uncertainties of a “live” jump.

And it worked. In fact, it worked so well that upon landing safely on my first jump, my very first thought, and I remember this distinctly, was “that was exactly like we practiced.” It was almost anti-climactic. That’s the power of ritualized practice. It makes desired actions routine even in the face of new situations, fear, or uncertainty.

Using rituals to drive your culture

The same is true with your culture. Defining the behaviors that drive success gives your people incredible clarity on what is expected of them, but it’s the ritualized practice of those behaviors that make them last. The rituals allow you to teach and practice your culture over and over again to the point where those desired actions become so ingrained in your organization that it doesn’t matter whether you’re growing quickly, launching a new service or product, or facing a global pandemic, your culture will provide a reliable, stable foundation upon which everything else is built.

If you’d like to learn more about how to use rituals to be more systematic about the teaching and practice of your culture, just click on the button below.  Or plan on joining us in late October at our Annual Culture Summit.

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