I’ve written before about how organisational cognitive dissonance tends to align different parts of an organisation to the same memeplex (aka mindset).
An exchange of tweets with @gothandy and @drunkcod earlier today gave me the occasion to consider that perhaps I had not delved deeply enough into this phenomenon, in terms of explanation. In particular, whenever I’m presenting on e.g. The Marshall Model, I’m conscious that when I say “everyone in the organisation shares the same memeplex”, I mean everyone. Executives, senior managers, middle managers, employees, temporary staff – everyone.
And by “shares the same memeplex” I mean “act as if they hold to a given set of assumptions, shared with everyone else in the organisation”. The key idea is “act as if”. We’re all individuals, after all, and I don’t believe for one minute that different people actually all see the world in the same way. But to get along, to function in a group, to feel safe and comfortable and unalienated, folks will tend to act as if they share the group’s belief system (mindset). Those few individuals who, for whatever reason, stand apart from the herd mentality – and act in accordance with a different belief system – mark themselves out for special attention, and for the full impact of organisational cognitive dissonance.
In other words, such individuals risk being seized upon by the organisation’s “antibodies” and pilloried, ridiculed, and ultimately forced out of the organisation – either by the attitudes of their peers, or by their own discomfort.
So, I don’t believe an organisational mindset is just in the heads of a few influential people like executives or senior managers.
More or less everyone in a given organisation is complicit in toeing the party line and subjugating their own world view to the group’s – in order to get along.
For me, this is what makes a transition from one memeplex to another such a challenge. Literally everyone in the organisation is involved. And because of organisational cognitive dissonance, everyone has to transition at the same time, and more or less at the same rate.
I’d love to hear your point of view on this. After all, it wouldn’t do for us all to share the same mindset, would it? 😉
Groupthink – Wikipedia entry