Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Behaviours at Year End Break Up Parties!

Most organisations have some sort of "year end" breakup party just preceding the holiday season of their culture. A celebration of what has been achieved and what there is to look forward to in the following year.  These are the absolute best times to understand the REAL culture of your organisation.  As an example, over the next few days many organisations around the world will be breaking up for Christmas where there will be ample flow of alcohol and consequently ample flow of emotions (sometimes far too openly for the comfort of others).

So sit back in a corner and observe for a while and see the nature of the zoo in terms of behaviours.  Behaviour and relationships (or desired relationships) determine which cluster each of the animals aligns with and who is permitted to join. The image clearly shows the animal alliances and a little analysis helps you to understand the culture of the zoo.  The Organizational Zoo philosophy is that the culture of the zoo is determined by which animals you have, where they are in the hierarchy and how they interact.

What stories do you think are going on in this image?
Why does Triceratops drink alone: His/her fault or the fault of others?
Which of the Lion den (org silos) would be best to be part of?
Why do the Owls spread themselves amongst several groups?
Who typically is th only one working and why?
What reasons are there for being part of a lions group rather than any other, especially the Quercus (Oak Tree)?

Metaphorical questions (like rhetorical questions) are wonderfully powerful. Reflecting on why things happen using the creativity of a metaphor is helpful to our understanding as it brings emotion, creativity and logic together in an "out of body" experience.  We can talk about behaviours in a way that seems more objective and less political than talking about people. Note, I said seems, we are still limited by our own biases and established patterns, but if you allow yourself some freedom, you may even be able to challenge these and come to understand some new options you have not noticed before). A BIG thank you to John Szabo who does all of the Zoo Drawings, he nailed this one just like all the others!

Have some fun with this and at the same time you may learn something about others and maybe even yourself!
Happy people watching!  I look forward to sharing more metaphor with you in 2011.
Enjoy a safe and prosperous break for those of you fortunate enough to get them and spare a though for those who are less fortunate.


Frank Connolly said...
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Frank Connolly said...

"As is usual at such events the lions, hyenas and jackals are superficially pleasant and incapable of self-reflecting upon their behaviours throughout the year and seeing the contrast. The owl, normally the kindly mentor, is transformed by a few Christmas ales into a wolf in Santa's clothing. Here he entices a young feline with an inducement in the form of a gift, a trip to sea in a beautiful pea-green boat and some personal mentoring post-party. (There are numerous gags that spring to mind re this liaison, but not for this space.) "

Arthur Shelley said...

Thanks for your wily insights as usual. There is no doubt that perspective is a personal thing and this image highlights that well.
Who is "good" and who is less so is certainly in the mind of each animal from their perspective. WE get what WE see, which may or may not be reality (whatever that is). My perspective is my reality, but your perspective my not fit my reality! :)