Ceremony – What’s it Got to do with Business?

It may be legend that Peter Drucker said, “Culture eats strategy for breakfast,” but it is a fact that in Tom Meloche’s new book  Ceremony: A Profound New Method for Achieving Successful and Sustainable Change, he says that “Ceremony eats culture for breakfast, lunch and dinner.”
Every day on multiple occasions, employees make choices – and they make the best choices they can with the information they have.  Unfortunately, too much of the time, the choices are not in the best interest of the business or even themselves.  Why would they do that?  The simple answer is lack of specific information and/or direction from management.
I have been saying for a few decades that it is management’s responsibility to provide staff with a path of least resistance, a path comprised of direction and information so that each person at any point in time will know what the best choice is and be able to make it.
I listened to Tom Meloche talk about his book Ceremony: A Profound New Method for Achieving Successful and Sustainable Change last week and realized that all these years, I have been talking about creating ceremony in the workplace.  This is a fascinating topic and Tom’s book is a quick read that invites you into the possibility of what ceremony can do for your business.
Go to Kindle for a copy of the book at the introductory price of $.99 or CeremonialSystems.com for more info.  Below is the executive summary.
“A good ceremony is purposeful work.  The purpose of the ceremony is known and understood by all participants.
A good ceremony is social ritual. The work is done in a highly-structured ritual form by two or more participants.  Participants learn exactly what they are to do next during each ceremony.
A good ceremony is worth the sacrifice.  Executing a structured ritual form requires sacrifice.  A good ceremony takes seriously the answer of any of the participants saying participating isn’t worth the sacrifice.
A good ceremony provides positive emotional energy.  Doing purposeful work together in social ritual naturally generates positive emotional energy in the participants.  If they do not experience positive emotional energy, we evolve or abandon the ritual. Positive emotional energy turns business process into activity-reinforcing, emotionally-addicting, self-replicating habit.
Ceremony is the true secret to creating a workplace people love.  It turns out humans naturally love ceremony as it provides us with a feeling of belonging, unity, and happiness–it creates joy.”
-Tom Meloche
Executive Summary
Ceremony is a purposeful ritual social interaction which completes an element of work, requires sacrifice, and rewards participants with positive emotional energy.
Almost every task humans undertake can be improved using ceremony. Humans have a natural emotional bias toward ceremony as it provides us with a feeling of belonging, unity, and happiness. Ceremony is described using the following pattern:
  • Name-what we call the ceremony.
  • Purpose-a clear goal or outcome, usually an element of work to be accomplished.
  •  Participants-at least two people who entrain together to meet the purpose, serving in two or more roles.
  • Structure-a set of ritual interactions and protocols which provide a clear opening, execution, and closing.
To execute ceremony requires sacrifice. The most common sacrifice is the time, energy, and focus required to participate. Ceremonies must leave their participants with positive emotional energy. Positive emotional energy creates emotionally-addicting, self-replicating habit.
We gauge the effectiveness of ceremony by asking three questions:
  • Does the ceremony accomplish the purpose?
  • Is the ceremony worth the sacrifice?
  • Do the participants receive positive emotional energy?
Only if all three answers are yes will the ceremony be successful.
Building great ceremonies makes it possible for almost anyone with the basic skills and talents to work successfully in your organization. It is dramatically easier to hire and train new team members, frequently making them highly productive almost immediately.
 Change your focus from hiring great people to building great ceremony.

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