Your challenge is to make decisions with the greatest knowledge of the potential for success, organize yourself and your resources to carry out these decisions, and then measure the results.
In some organizational cultures, meeting this challenge is simply a matter of matching the degree of risk with the right amount of feedback. Unfortunately, if your access to information is limited or nonexistent, then the chances of failure increase each time you make an uninformed decision.
Functionality is determined by the way people react to failure. In a dysfunctional culture failure is not tolerated and the fear of rejection is constant. In a functional culture failure is the price to be paid for success and rejection is viewed as an opportunity to learn.
Your attitude toward rejection depends upon how you view failure. Confronting failure allows you to learn from it and overcome it so it doesn’t get in your way. It also helps you develop relationships in a positive way, even when the surrounding organization is dysfunctional.
Of the four cultures described previously, the presume culture is the most prone to dysfunction. This is a tense culture, fast-paced and crisis-driven. People tend to be self- centered, close-minded, and mean-spirited. Succeeding in this culture is difficult and challenging, since both the risks and the chances of failure are equally high.
Underachievers are typically closed to feedback. Those that are open to it may not know where to look. There are examples on Wall Street almost daily of what can happen to an organization that gets stuck in a presume culture whereby the decision makers increased their risk without upgrading the feedback process. Eventually, the lack of information did them in.
The process culture is also dysfunctional because the people in it are nonreactive. This is a slack culture, slow moving, and crisis resistant. The employees, while generally well-intentioned, tend to be self-satisfied and close-minded. They don’t respond in a timely manner and therefore discourage creative solutions to pressing problems. Getting people to change the way they do things, even when such change is clearly advantageous and justifiable, takes a major effort.
In both the process and presume cultures, people will change but only when it is forced upon them. External demands put pressure on them to make decisions sooner than they would like. They do so reluctantly and without asking for additional feedback. Thus, they risk being wrong more often, which in turn, increases their opportunity for failure and subsequently the rejection from their coworkers that is bound to follow.
Given these circumstances, those who are already failing to meet minimum expectations feel threatened by change, as they fear it will demand more of them. Rather than looking forward, they start wishing for the good old days and talking about how great things used to be.