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.


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