For many western nations, Covid-19 is starting to transition from being a pandemic to becoming more of an endemic virus. While some governments are still pursuing a zero-Covid strategy, most are trying work out how we can best manage and live with the disease. Policies such as booster jabs, regular testing and outbreak tracing are all likely to be part of any ongoing solution.

Reflecting on the shift to endemic conditions has made me think about how organizational culture and behaviours can be thought of in the same way. Sometimes these endemic behaviours are positive. For example, I’ve had the fortune to work in many businesses where a desire to deliver great customer service and go the extra mile is an endemic behaviour.

But endemic behaviours can also be negative. Resistance to change and innovation across an organisation, for instance, impedes growth for many businesses, while a lax approach to quality simply results in higher costs and lower customer satisfaction.

As with Covid-19 it can be tempting to find ways to ‘live with’ these negative behaviours, but a zero-tolerance policy is more likely to be successful in the long term. It took US car manufacturers two decades or more to understand that the industry’s quality issues and their companies’ inability to compete with Toyota lay in the behaviours of leaders and workers, not simply changing systems and processes. It was only when the manufacturers addressed these underlying – endemic – behaviours head-on that they were able to improve quality, drive satisfaction and increase market share.

What negative behaviours has your organisation learned to ‘live with’ when you should be adopting a zero-tolerance approach?

Off The Record: Stick It To The Man from School of Rock: The Musical

When the world has screwed you, and crushed you in its fist

When the way you’re treated has got you good and pissed

There’s been one solution since the world began

Don’t just sit and take itStick it to the man!

Getting Your Innovation Strategy Right

Business leaders are constantly exhorted to innovate. But what kind of innovation should managers pursue? The Innovation Strategy Matrix helps you to answer that question and get your innovation strategy right.

Stuart Cross 2021. All rights reserved.