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Why Success Breeds Success

November 20, 2011

Working with institutional cultures can be extremely challenging. Mostly because the culture has an impact in terms of the extent to which staff members are willing to join your efforts. If the culture (and staff) dictate doing things a certain way and new ideas are frowned upon, the pessimism can be hard to shake. Especially when you’re trying to excel and get a job done. Seth Godin writes:

If your organization is both pessimistic and operationally focused, then every new idea is a threat. It represents more work, something that could go wrong, a chance for disaster. People work to protect against the downside, to insulate against the market, to be sure that they won’t get blamed for anything that challenges the system. In organizations like this, a new idea has to be proven to be better than the current status quo in all situations before it gets launched.

But how can a new idea be proven without acting upon it? If acting on an idea without getting consensus isn’t how the institution operates, and trying to change the culture is futile, what can be done? Slowly chipping away at the institution’s core culture takes time, patience, and guts. Either you can:

1) Keep slowly chipping away at the culture with the hope that your ideas start to resonate

2) Do what you’re told and don’t challenge the status quo

3) Find another organization that has enthusiasm and belief for new ideas

Enthusiasm coupled with belief are necessary to shake things up and build the momentum needed to generate success. When the momentum is built, success breeds success. It’s as simple as that.