Our sense of entitlement may ingrained, but change is possible.
Palm springs, Calif.
As a new "stimulus package" wades through Congress, one wonders if we're simply repeating past behavior and hoping for a different result – one definition of insanity.
The breakdown of individual and corporate responsibility in America has contributed dearly to the economic mess we're in. More handouts won't address that breakdown, but change is possible, and President Barack Obama's election proved it.
He and his team transformed the culture of US campaigns with his Internet-enabled community organization engine. "Why not use that model to begin to change the culture of economic responsibility in America?" suggested Barbara Braham, an organizational development consultant and leadership coach in a conversation with me.
As ingrained into our society as entitlement may be, culture change is possible. We've seen it with Mr. Obama's election and I've seen it in my work as an executive coach.
A while back, I worked on a project with a large company sporting a command-and-control culture. The executives received data that proved their employees and clients (and therefore their bottom line) were suffering due to their isolation. The culture of the company telegraphed to its employees "shut up and do your job," which blinded its leaders to causes and patterns of production problems, inadequate resources, and haphazard training.
Once the consequences of their actions were understood by those at the top, they began ongoing meetings to listen to all of their employees in small groups – just asking questions and listening without respect to title or level. At first, given the culture, employees were shocked and silent (one executive told me all he heard were crickets). Then the insights began to come, and things improved. Over several years and hundreds of meetings, the employees and leaders collaborated to create a different culture. The clients, employees, and bottom lines are happier as a result.
Corporate "cultures" are, of course, far less complex than the culture of a nation; even a culture change in the workplace takes tremendous focus and determination.
That said, the time is ripe for a makeover when it comes to how we handle our money.