What's Wrong with Organisations' Cultures?

Updated: May 21

People ultimately make or break any organisation or team. True high-performance teams, given optimised processes and the best tools for the job, will always outperform everyone’s expectations by large margins. Why is this the case?


The human element is much more powerful than anything we can optimise in terms of processes and technology, but this feels more difficult to do. Optimising the business processes will also yield higher value compared to automating existing and often flawed processes, but again this will take more effort to do so we tend to ignore this.

We are currently seeing too many organisations rushing to implement the “flavour of the month” technology into the “as-is” processes, ignoring the human element with no improvement or examination of the current process steps or the gap in human potential that are automated. As a result, they58 may achieve modest savings, but in many cases they will miss out on opportunities to dramatically improve process outcomes, quality, costs, and cycle times.


In many companies, the level of process knowledge and understanding is quite low. The company may have collections of standard operating procedures, but they are often poorly documented and out of date. Each employee typically follows their own understanding of best practices.


In our experience, working with high-performing employees to challenge and improve the processes and embed the correct technology, we have seen not only significant improvements in the processes being automated but also reduced process problems across other parts of the business.



Humans want to belong. In fact, humans want to belong so strongly that they will do almost anything to ensure they do.


Recent research by Professor Mathew Lieberman, who heads the Social Cognitive Neuroscience Lab at UCLA’s Department of Psychology, Psychiatry and Biobehavioural Science, suggests that Maslow’s celebrated hierarchy of needs is wrong. It turns out that belonging is actually more important to human beings than food, water or shelter. How can this be true?


Because in social animals, of which humans are the ultimate example, belonging to a group is a precondition that ensures we will receive food, water and shelter. Without that belonging, we will die, particularly when young.


So our brains are hard-wired to make sure we do what we need to do to belong. As far as our brains are concerned, it is interpreted as literally a matter of life or death, even if food, water and shelter are abundant.


Why does this matter in the case of organisational culture? If humans will do almost anything to belong, that means each of us must spend time and effort working out what it takes to belong in a specific organisation, at a specific time and do whatever we can to ensure that belonging, once earned, is fiercely defended.


We have also seen that most problem areas in organisations have multiple roots and in most cases there is a common deep cultural root where the company culture is not conducive to achieve the desired outcomes. Simpology built a core capability in terms of culture assessments and leadership change management to assist organisations in building and sustaining a truly high performance team culture.

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