“To be is to do.” Socrates“To do is to be.” Plato
“Do-be-do-be-do” Frank SinatraI have recently been reading some of the works of Dr. Paul Hiebert, who studied the types of culture we are likely to encounter as we interact with groups of people. He commented that there were two types of cultures; “bounded set” and “centered set.” A bounded set is more rigid and often blocks the acceptance of anything from cultures outside its own. For this bounded group, there are things which must never be done and specific things that must always be done if a person is to fit into a bounded culture. The centered set is much more relational and fluid, which makes it easier to enter and be accepted.
Transforming a culture is a relational process. These two different culture sets are guided by their own set of principles and regulations. In the centered set, cultures relational transformation is not near as tidy as a bounded set guided by a series of regulations. In a bounded set, we are led to believe if we follow a set of rules we will be ok.
In a bounded set culture, image is everything. But when the way things appear is all that is important, the way things really are seems to never get addressed. The by-word for the bounded set is “behave.” By following the rules, people think they are ok, but this is far from the truth.
When performance fails, guilt and rebellion follow. People try to cope with the stress and weariness of being unable to keep on the bounded set treadmill. The solution is not more rules and regulations. Rather, relationships and engagement of the culture (team) members allows them to work through the issues the next set of regulations just can’t solve.
Are rules needed? Of course, but so is flexibility. This flexibility of a centered set culture allows our creative abilities to engage in creative problem solving for what another series of “just do this” mentality won’t solve. When it comes to human nature realities in the workplace, or home, both culture set characteristics are needed. What areas of your safety and work performance can be improved by going beyond a bound set of rules and regulations and creatively engaging the drive and talents of your people?