Ritual Revamp

This week's trek is inspired by Dr. Joanne Martin's research at Stanford on organizational behavior and culture.

Does your team have a regular ritual?

From LeBron's chalk toss to the Detroit Red Wing's octopus tradition, team sports are rooted in rituals. Organizations also thrive on rituals - from coffee breaks and happy hours to off-sites and town halls.

However, rituals that stick around aren't typically made up on a whim. Most long-standing organizational rituals were thoughtfully designed to uphold a shared sense of purpose, connection, and values.

Introducing Your Ritual Revamp Exercise

What It Is
A 20-minute exercise to observe some of your team's common rituals and determine what you might want to revamp or retire going forward. 

Why We Love It 
While some rituals have a clear purpose others can appear to be pointless if they lose their meaning within the team. This exercise provides an opportunity to identify the rituals that best support your team's culture and determine what you might want to change to better align with your goals.

How It Works
1. Take five minutes and think about the tone you want to set with your team. Do you want people to feel more engaged? More connected? More motivated? Write down 3 adjectives that describe the tone you want to set. 

2. Select a day this week to observe your team's rituals. Grab your fav notepad and pen and jot down your observations based on the following questions:
A. How does our team start the day? End the day?
B. How do we begin meetings? How do we end meetings?
C. How do we talk about wins (e.g., hitting a sales target, winning new business, solving a customer problem)?
D. How do we acknowledge or celebrate a job well done?
E. What other rituals consistently show up on our team?

2. Once you've captured your observations, take 10 minutes to examine any rituals you've noted. 
- In what way does the tone you want to set (see your adjectives in #1) align with your team's rituals? 
- In what way does the tone you want to set not align with your team's rituals?

3. For the second question in #2, what might be a new ritual you can put in place to better align with your intended tone? Here's some inspiration from other companies:
OXO has an entire wall where lost gloves are hung to remind their team of all the different types of hands they must design their products for.
At Southwest's HQ employees gather on the roof for Monday afternoon landing parties where they have drinks, watch Southwest planes land at the nearby airport, and rate each pilot's performance. 
- At Starbucks new retail hires are "required to taste and document their reactions to all the coffee blends on offer at Starbucks" in order to show how important it is to know the product. 

4. For the ritual you identified in #3, consider your time horizon. Is this the kind of ritual that will be important for just the next quarter or does it have longer term implications? If it has longer term implications consider how this tradition might support your team's growth in 6 months, 1 year, and 5 years down the road.

Want to dig deeper?
We want to hear from you for a Best of 2018 Feature this month. Hit us up at treks@lifetrekkers.me to tell us which treks you've loved and why. Check out the archive here.
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Shankar Desai