Organizations that downplay their history and traditions risk losing their values, need for vision and purpose, and competence.
Leading with a sense of history is not to be enslaved to the past, but rather to acknowledge its power.
The history of a business is a key to its identity, and the memory of its strategic path helps to focus its identity better. Knowledge of the corporation deepens with an awareness of the twists and turns that have brought it to its current situation. History also helps us understand how the company’s culture has developed through its path, created as a result of choices made over time.
Corporate history is especially pertinent during transition periods, such as when founders step down from leading the company and long-term employees retire. An organization is at an inflection point where the old guard is starting to move on, and people who are left have no sense of the company’s history. Appreciating an organization’s history helps explain its culture and makes it strong and sustainable.
The history of a business is a source of creativity because awareness of choices undertaken in the past may generate innovative ideas, either through further development of previous ideas or, more simply, by recovering ideas that were discarded in the past. In addition, seeing how a particular problem was solved in the past may facilitate the development of processes to solve current issues.
Having a sense of corporate history available also provides energy and trust for those making decisions. Accessing the past in the present helps put the present in context. It contributes to understanding the relativity of what seems now exceptional and complex. In the past, problems considered particularly challenging and unique put current issues into perspective.
History is useful as a diagnostic tool and a method to recall significant moments from the past to motivate employees in the present. Corporate history contains its heritage and traditions, which senior managers need to understand if they see the present as part of a process rather than a collection of accidental happenings. In addition, perceiving a company in this way can enhance the leadership team’s ability to plan.
A Culture of Collaboration
Collaboration leads to better project outcomes, the more efficient delivery of schemes, improved business performance, and greater client satisfaction. In addition, collaboration creates a culture that drives innovation and solutions to unexpected challenges during every project. As a result, collaboration has a significant impact on success.
Thriving businesses have instilled the following within their organizational culture:
- Providing clear, consistent leadership and expecting the same from interested stakeholders.
- Allocating collective responsibility, risk, and reward to all those involved in a project to drive a collaborative culture.
- Avoiding ambiguity which undermines collaboration. Roles and responsibilities must be defined, software standardized to aid communication, and procedures for tackling problems and resolving conflicts in place.
- Embracing technology to improve collaboration. Capitalizing on opportunities requires courage, as new technologies are untested, and public procurement often favors low-risk behavior and tried-and-tested approaches.
Teams work collaboratively. They believe in employee involvement and input from key stakeholders. At the outset, successful businesses lay the foundations of collaboration by estimating procures to facilitate effective communication and timely issue resolution. By promoting mutual respect and trust, early stakeholder involvement, consensus building, and leadership, organizations successfully achieve their goals and maximize quality while maintaining the budget and schedule.
History as Power
Researchers emphasize that some businesses have access to a particular portfolio of resources and capabilities, from which are derived certain behaviors and opportunities. Such resources and outcomes include extensive social capital, focus on non-financial objectives, long-term orientation, high levels of employee care, high wages, strong employee motivation, and elevated levels of organizational trust. These attributes allow organizations to survive and thrive in the most challenging economic times.
Margot Note, archivist, consultant, and Lucidea Press author is a regular blogger, and popular webinar presenter for Lucidea, provider of ArchivEra, archival collections management software for today’s challenges and tomorrow’s opportunities. Read more of Margot’s posts here. And stay tuned for the release of her upcoming book, The Digital Decisive Moment: Transformative Digitization Practices—the next title in our Lucidea’s Lens series.
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