energizing breakthrough performance

The Shared-Fate Culture: Motivation X Ability = Performance

Author: ; Published: Mar 29, 2012; Category: Cross-Functional Teams, Matrix Management, Strategic Planning; Tags: None; One Comment»

What’s a pragmatic definition of organizational culture? It’s what employees think and do when the boss isn’t looking. In large organizations, there’s the culture and then there are often plenty of subcultures. This leads to the leadership question: Why can’t we operate as one company? What can be done about splintered or disjointed hand-offs? At minimum, to operate as one company requires that employees understand that their fates are linked together inextricably.

 Strengthening the shared-fate culture is essential to effective matrix management or other networked approaches to accomplishing the mission. The shared-fate culture is also necessary for developing seamless strategic alliances or partnering arrangements with other organizations. Your partners can’t work effectively with your organization if they are becoming frustrated about which one of the “Seven Faces of Eve” they are seeing.

One way of describing the shared-fate culture is as a “collaborative community.” Another synonym is the notion of “organizational alignment.” However, to achieve a shared-fate culture, collaborative community, or organizational alignment requires that win-win behaviors trump zero-sum behaviors in your enterprise. Sound like a cliché? If we merely talk about it, it is a cliché – one that is much easier said than done.  Making real change is heavy lifting, akin to teaching the proverbial elephant to dance.

Beyond high-altitude exhortations about why the shared-fate culture or the “one-firm concept” is so essential lies the hard-nosed reality that Performance = Motivation X Ability.  In other words, people not only need to have the ability to collaborate, they must be motivated to collaborate, feeling in their gut that this is in their individual as well as collective best interests.  Conceptual training alone cannot achieve necessary change, and jingoism certainly won’t get it done.   Few individuals will disagree intellectually that all employees share the common fate of the enterprise – at least not openly.  The Kumbaya moments are free, but translating this intellectual understanding into daily action is the only thing that matters.

Changes in values and behavior are essential as is heightened motivation to do things differently.  Changes in behavior precede changes in culture, not vice versa.  Shared strategies for managing “hot intersections” where cross-functional hand-offs occur are also essential if fractures, fumbles, fizzles and foibles are to be averted. Also, weaving a web of explicit, value-adding interdependency among key players is necessary for success. And there’s even more to it than that.

Strategic Futures has created an exciting and powerful one-day program called Building the Shared-Fate Culture to help your organization transform itself into a collaborative community.  The program is both motivational and instructional, rather than just one or the other. Overcoming entrenched organizational defense mechanisms requires both skill and grit. Please contact info@strategicfutures.com to learn more about how we can help.

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One Response to “The Shared-Fate Culture: Motivation X Ability = Performance”


  1. aloe vera
    Oct 25, 2014
    9:54 am

    This is my first time pay a quick visit at here and i am
    actually happy to read everthing at single place.

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