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Order and disorder

Japan is a very orderly society.

I had never spent time there until a couple of years back and took the opportunity to visit during Hanami –the Cherry Blossom season.

India is chaotic; traffic, queues, loud.

But they both work – they are both functioning societies and both proving effective in recovering from the economic downturn. How does that work then? How can two very different systems produce similar positive outcomes? I think the answer is to be found in Alignment; in this case, cultural alignment. A Japanese commuter knows that there are marks on the subway platforms that show where the train doors will open and that there are marks where they should stand. An Indian motorist knows that the car horn is to let others know you are there and that to use your indicators would be to lose the opportunity to manouevre and could confuse other drivers. Neither instances of alignment would work effectively if transposed and would cause anxiety, confusion and possibly collision.

So, as a leader, perhaps looking to institute change in your organisation, what do you do? Push the unqueueable (this is a word now) into a queue? Remove structure and order where it has been a foundation?

Perhaps a key to leading change is to recognise what has been the established order and even where it is not what you believe the business needs for the future, take time to understand it fully:

- What does it give people, how does it provide security, who relies upon it?

- Does it really improve the business?

- Do you really understand what you are intending to dismantle?

- Are there elements that should remain?

When you believe you have really have an understanding, re-evaluate the change you intend to introduce against your improved view.

Just, don’t jump a queue in Tokyo.

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