Tag Archives: rituals

The Importance of Rituals in the Workplace

Screen Shot 2015-05-10 at 9.56.51 PMRituals are significant and powerful.  Symbols can have a great impact, as they communicate beyond words and convey meanings without explicit explanations. Rituals and symbols play an important role in the success of managing the creativity and innovation because they speak to our subconscious, comfort our unspoken fears, enable us to tap into solution that cannot be found in a linear fashion, and connect us emotionally to our friends and colleagues.

Ritual is a powerful way to harness the life force the lives deep down in every one of us.  The way rituals impact us is through rhythm (rituals occur at well-defined moments: Sunday mass, birthdays, the end of puberty, end of year graduation) regular repetition (Thanksgiving every year, morning ablutions, Sunday family lunch) and dramatic staging (Christmas tree, sculpted pumpkins, candles for a Valentine’s Day dinner).

Rituals imply a certain level of ceremony and require time, but they are profoundly efficient in both the short and the long term.  For example, think about how football players huddle before they go onto the field at the beginning of a big game.  It is a moment that may include a prayer or words of encouragement from their coach, but most important it is time that they set aside to reach beyond self-doubt and turn fear into audacity by connecting to their guts.  In Rugby Six Nations Tournaments, national anthems are played at the beginning of the game to invoke a sense of pride and responsibility for the success of the team.

Rituals are transformative because they help us deal constructively with the intangible dynamics within us and within groups.  They productively channel instinctual forces into creative powers.  Ritual is what allows us to gather the energy needed to achieve great things, often beyond what we could imagine ourselves capable of.  When managing the creative process, celebrating wins and awards is one effective way to reassure creative teams, whose members often question their own talent.  And one thing is certain:  not celebrating wins can cause a lot of damage to the spirit and motivation of your creative team.

Navigating creative and innovative processes is rarely easy; it often entails a lot of unknowns and a lot of erratic moments.  No matter how seasoned and brave you are, self-doubt and fear are simply unavoidable in the process of creation.  Rituals address fear of the unknown, self-sabotage, and procrastination, which can all happen during any creative process–hence the importance of rituals in southwest management.

There are many ways to spark creativity and establish an atmosphere that resonates with creative teams.  These are effective ways to improve creative output that you can apply to your business.  Consider how many of them you’ve thought about before and how many of them you actually implement in your management.  Leaving these out is not a valid option.

Excerpted from The Intuitive Compass, Jossey-Bass, 2011.


Why Ritual is an Important Part of Leadership

Ritual is powerful and can be used to engage people in ways that words alone cannot.  Rituals are meant to affect the body through regular repetition and dramatic staging; as a consequence of that drama and repetition, they affect us at an instinctual level and influence the mind in ways much deeper than logic and reason.   From sacred ceremonies including school graduations and the public swearing in of elected officials, they mark the most significant moments of our lives, individually and collectively.  On a more mundane level, they help us navigate through the average day—the morning cup of coffee, a hot shower.  They send a signal to our brain that something of note is happening.  In all cases they help us harness energy, stabilize our minds, and have faith in the future.  In doing so they channel our thrust for survival in constructive ways.  By conveying a sense of purpose to important aspects of our lives, they help us find meaning, go past inertia to move through the challenges of life, and creatively reach beyond the bounds of logic.  Rituals powerfully harness the law of survival, the law of reaching beyond boundaries, and the law of inertia.

Rituals can also help in the business world.  BETC, the successful advertising agency in France, provides an example that can easily be adapted to many different businesses and industries.  The founder and chairwoman of the agency, Mercedes Erra, insists that whenever a brief on a new client or project is brought in by an account executive, it is and should be treated as a pivotal moment in the life of the agency.  The brief is the first step in the development of a new campaign.  Its arrival becomes a celebratory moment.  It is the trigger for a professional ritual in which importance and meaning are conveyed.  Food and drinks are brought into a special room, and all of the people who will be working on the campaign gather together to talk about the future of the project.   It is fun and play and serious work all at the same time.  Key elements of the brief are clarified, including the strategic context of the project.  There is discussion about the agency’s or individual team members’ relationship with the client, and any convictions or doubts about the client, their company, the brand, or the communications plan that they want to launch.  But what happens could not be achieved through an exchange of emails or written notes because they would not have the same impact.  Allowing time, staging the meeting in a different way, and having the chairwoman attend the briefing all have a special emotional impact and show the significance of the event.  People can feel its significance, and feeling it is more important than understanding it intellectually when it comes to harnessing creativity and enthusiasm.  Feelings make an impact on our bodies, which in turn influences our ability to solve problems and imagine new solutions.  Such a meeting reaches into people’s psyches, and the meeting’s perceived significance has a long-lasting effect.  Rituals are powerful, as they help us go beyond what’s tangible and conscious.  They reach deep into our unconscious, engage our instinct, and convey meaning.

Excerpted from The Intuitive Compass, Jossey-Bass, 2011.


Harnessing the Power of Ritual for Business Innovation

How often do you engage in rituals? Probably more often than you think. From daily routines like the first cup of coffee in the morning or the story you read your child at bedtime to the most culturally significant celebrations, including weddings and bar mitzvahs, rituals are almost certainly a part of your personal life. But are they a part of your professional life? If not, you are missing out on an extremely powerful management tool, especially if what you are seeking from your team is creative innovation and out of the box thinking in the context of a rapidly evolving marketplace.

Research done by neuroscientists shows that 80% of our brain’s grey matter is dedicated to non-conscious thought and that imaginative play is one of the most direct means of activating our creativity and problem-solving abilities. Read More