Creating a questioning climate
Fairly consistent leader laments, in my experience, are the ones that go something like…’we need more diverse thinking in the organisation,’ or ‘we need more innovation in the organisation,’ or ‘we need people to be more challenging (of the status quo or old ways of doing things)’.
Such laments are heartfelt and yet project responsibility outwards rather than stirring the introspection that’s needed and would prompt action for a change of climate.
Organisational culture can be a mass of unwritten rules crystallised around the behaviours displayed by leaders. If we want more diverse thinking we must check in first on the diversity of our own thinking. How much it is governed by a long-established worldview or mental models that we run on autopilot, for example. Perhaps we are surrounded by people who think like us, recruited in our image and/or conforming to our lead?
More diversity comes from our willingness to seek out alternative stimuli and new and different voices inside the organisation and beyond. And when we’ve found them we need to listen deeply and to keep questioning and challenging until people get beyond the superficial and find their true voice.
Of course, this may unleash criticism, or dissent or disruption. As uncomfortable as this may be, we’ll likely be uncovering a wealth of different thinking – ideas for change that could help transform the organisation. And, not least in that transformation we’ll be busting some unwritten rules and myths about what people can question, say, raise and challenge and giving ‘permission’ for people to really get involved.