As part of understanding eGro, we have created this document with the purpose of revealing our unspoken values and expectations to new team members. Here you will also be introduced to how we try and accommodate challenges on an interpersonal team-level, to solve problems in-between people and focus on our results. In many ways, this documents aims at making explicit eGro’s underlying culture. Like the picture of the peanut plant on the frontpage, this document serves to reveal what is not visible to the eye right away, like our visual organizational structures and processes, strategies, goals and philosophies; but what is just beneath the ground: Our basic underlying assumptions!
The surrounding culture
eGro has always been characterized by an international horizon and a diverse team constellation. However, we cannot ignore being part of the Danish culture and we are inevitably shaped by our environment or upbringing. So before we dive into what we expect of each other and how we can solve problems in between people and focus on results, we briefly introduce you to the Danish culture from the perspectives of Gert Hofstede. Hofstede (1928), is a professor who conducted one of the most comprehensive studies of how values in the workplace are influenced by culture.
Hofstede (1928) introduced six different dimensions as shown below, which give a good overview of the deep drivers behind a country’s culture, relative to other cultures. How these six different dimensions are prominent in the Danish culture will be introduced in the following.
The six different dimensions are:
- Power Distance
- Uncertainty avoidance
- Long-term orientation
1. Power Distance
This dimension expresses the attitude of the culture towards the inequalities among us and deals with the fact that all individuals in societies are not equal. Power distance is the extent to which the less powerful members of institutions and organizations within a country expect and accept that power is distributed unequally.
Denmark is at the very low end of this dimension compared to other countries. An implication of this shows in the way Danes coach instead of lead and also reflects high-required employee autonomy. In fact, Denmark ranks very high in terms of employee autonomy and there is a very egalitarian mindset. This means that the Danes believe in independency, equal rights, accessible superiors and a management that facilitates and empowers. The power is therefore also decentralized and management relies on the experience of their team members. The workplace is therefore connected with an informal atmosphere where direct and involving communication is expected.
This dimension addresses the degree of interdependence a society maintains among its members. It is reflected in people’s self-image and whether it’s defined in terms of “I” or “We”. In very individualistic societies, people are expected to look after themselves and their direct family only, whereas in more collectivist societies people belong to larger groups and take care of them in exchange for loyalty. Denmark is an individualistic society and there is a high preference for a loosely-knit social network, where individuals mostly are expected to take care of themselves and their immediate family. We are a very small country, and we feel like everyone knows each other, so there is a high level of trust. This also means that you do not have to create a relationship before you do business together, that small talk is kept at a minimum and that Danes use a very direct form of communication.
For this dimension, the fundamental issue revolves around what motivates people, wanting to be the best (masculine) or liking what you do (feminine). A more masculine society will be driven by competition, achievements and success, where the winner, a value system that starts in school and continues throughout organizational life, defines success. Whereas a more feminine society values caring for others and quality of life. Here, one’s quality of life is a sign of success and it is not admired to stand out from the crowd. Denmark is considered a Feminine society, which means that it is regarded important to maintain a good work/life balance and be inclusive. Decision-making is achieved through involvement, managers strive for consensus and people value equality and solidarity. Conflicts are resolved by compromise and negotiation.
4. Uncertainty avoidance
This dimensions has to do with the way a society deals with the unknown future, if we try to control the future, or just let it happen. The uncertainty of the fact that the future can never be known, creates some anxiety that different cultures have learnt to deal with in different ways. So this dimension says something about the extent to which members of a culture feel threatened by ambiguous or unknown situations and have created beliefs and institutions that try to avoid these. Denmark is pretty low on this dimension, which means that Danes do not need a lot of structure and predictability in their work life. As such, plans can change rather quickly and new things can pop up. In the workplace, Denmark’s low score is reflected in the fact that Danes will say if they are in doubt; don’t know something and that they are comfortable in ambiguous situations.
5. Long-term orientation
This dimension reflects how every society has to maintain some links with its own past, while dealing with the challenges of the present and future. A low score on this dimension, indicates a normative society, where people prefer to maintain time-honored traditions and norms, while societal change is viewed with suspicion. on the other hand, a high score for this dimension reflects a more pragmatic approach, where they encourage thrift and efforts in modern education as a way to prepare for the future. Denmark has a low score and has a normative culture. This means that Danes have a strong concern with establishing the absolute truth as they are normative in their thinking. There is also great respect for traditions, little tendency to save for the future and a focus on reaching quick results.
This dimension has to do with the extent to which people try to control their desires and impulses, based on the way they were raised. A relatively strong control is referred to as “restraint”, whereas a relatively weak control is called “indulgence”. Denmark has a high score on this dimension, making Denmark an indulgent country. This means that Danes usually exhibit a will to realize their impulses and desires in regards to enjoying life and having fun. It is also reflected in the positive attitude and a tendency towards optimism. Additionally Danes place a high degree of importance on leisure time.
How eGro’s surrounding culture affect our expectations
The brief descriptions of the six dimensions serves to reveal the deep drivers in the Danish society. However, these dimensions reveal the more or less implicit drivers affecting how we act and organize. To make matters more explicit, this means that we have certain expectations to ourselves and our colleagues in the workplace. In the following we have gathered some bullet points on our expectations:
- We expect people to be able to plan their own day
- We expect people to be able to time estimate their own tasks
- We expect people to be able to report on the progress of their own workflow
- We expect people to be able to structure themselves
- We expect people to be able to remember what they have been told
- We expect people to take their own notes and build an archive of learning
- We expect people to be able to set their own goals
- We expect people to be able to build their own critical path to this goal
- We expect people to be able to break down their own work structure
- We expect people to be transparent about their work structure
- We expect people to be able to explain what they are doing to others
- We expect people to be able to work independently
- We expect people to speak out when they are not getting any motion
- We expect people to monitor their own momentum
- We expect people to be able to time estimate their own tasks
- We expect people to be able to create a realistic time plan
- We expect people to be able to run their own calendars
- We expect people to be able to perform with deadlines
- We expect people to say if they have forgotten something
- We expect people to be open and vulnerable
- We expect people to be courageous and admit their shortcomings and mistakes
- We expect people to be able to deal with not being perfect
- We expect people to be able to be self-conscious
- We expect people to be able to monitor themselves
- We expect people to be able to understand that we all make mistakes all the time and that it is OK
- We expect people to communicate by email and understand it as important to work/life balance
- We expect people to be able to understand all this, without ever having been told
Compare and self-reflect
Firstly, this part served to introduce you to the surrounding culture, affecting eGro as an organization. Secondly, it served to make our implicit expectations to ourselves and each other more explicit. To further broaden your understanding, visit the webpage and find your, or your colleague´s national culture and check out Ghana’s while you are there. This will give you measures to compare and self-reflect. Visit the webpage here:
With your new understanding of the drivers behind different cultures, you might start to imagine how each individual’s differences come to interact with one another in our team. For the next part, we will briefly touch upon how the diversity in our team fuels our capability to solve problems.
A diversified team
In many ways, eGro’s workplace culture is inevitably affected by the drivers of Danish culture and our organisational structure is strongly shaped hereafter. But even though eGro is situated in the midst of Danish culture, our team consists of people from all over the world. And since differences in national culture isn’t the only aspect of diversity, our diverse team deserves further attention in the following.
Educational background, ethnicity, gender, religious beliefs, socio-economic status, age, political beliefs, sexual orientation or physical abilities are all part of the concept of diversity.
To eGro it means understanding the uniqueness of individuals, understanding each other and embracing the rich dimensions of diversity in us all. To us, these different nuances, perceptions and perspectives have the possibility to enrich our team’s capability of being a strong team.
A team composed of members with varied but complementary experiences, qualifications and skills is called a multi-disciplinary team. By having a multi-disciplinary team we increase the likelihood of success in solving the complex problems we work with (Katzenbach & Smith, 1993), and thus eGro’s unique composition contributes to the achievement of our objectives.
Meanwhile, we strive to have the passion to commit ourselves to eGro’s mission in common. But sometimes the bigger purpose of our work and the results we try to meet are interrupted and our focus is shifted. The next part will dive into the problem that occurs when this focus is shifted and how we can focus on pursuing eGro’s mission. For this purpose, the next part will dive into perspectives borrowed from a book that caught the interest of eGro’s CEO and Founder, Jacob, several years ago. Ever since he read it, he has been recommending it to practically everyone he knows. Instead of recommending this particular book to you, we have borrowed the fundamentals and shaped it to reflect how it relates to eGro. In the following, you will now be introduced to these new perspectives and terms, that will hopefully make you reflect on yourself and interpersonal interactions even more.
The Guru book
The following part has to do with the problem that all organizations risk facing when trying to succeed. The terms are derived from the book Leadership and Self-deception: Getting Out of the Box (The Arbinger Institute, 2000). The purpose of diving into this book, is to reveal how eGro tries to accommodate our interpersonal team-level challenges to solve problems in-between people and focus on our results instead.
To begin with, you need to know about a problem at the heart of human sciences. The problem is self-deception and it really determines one’s experience in every aspect of life.
Put differently, the problem is, that you have a problem and the bigger problem is that you can’t see you have a problem or that you are the problem.
Let’s take an example: There is no solution to the problem of lack of commitment, without a solution to the bigger problem, the problem that I can’t see that I am not committed.
This blindness is called self-deception by philosophers, but eGro uses a less technical name for it; Being in the box. You will learn more about the box, but to begin with you can think of it as being stuck in the experience of having a problem, you don’t think you have and you can’t see. You are only able to see matters from your own closed perspective and you resist any suggestion that the truth can be anything else. This is being in the box, being cut off, closed up and blind. It blinds us to the true cause of problems and when you are blind, all the possible solutions you can think of will essentially make matters worse.
It is this self-deception that is the inability to see that you have a problem and of all problems in organizations, this is the most common and the most damaging. That is why self-deception is such an important issue regarding leadership, because leadership is about making matters better.
There is a solution to self-deception as well and our hope is that you will find this knowledge liberating. It might sharpen your vision, reduce feelings of conflict, strengthen your desire for teamwork, increase accountability, boost our capacity to achieve results and deepen satisfaction and happiness.
What we sense
We are able to sense how people feel about us, and it is to that we respond. Let’s take an example: You are having an argument with your partner an early morning. The argument goes on and after a while the two of you have actually worked your ways to the opposite sides of the room. To you this “little discussion” is tiring and it is also making you late for work so you decide to apologize and put an end to it. You walk over and say “I’m sorry and lean in to give a kiss. It is the shortest possible kiss and your partner response: “You don’t mean it”. Which is true, you did not mean it and what you really felt came through. But you feel wronged, burdened and unappreciated, which can’t be covered op, even with a kiss. You walk out, shaking your head, gathering more evidence of your partner’s unreasonableness, not even accepting an apology! But is there an apology to accept? There really isn’t since you didn’t mean it. And that is the point of the example - We can sense how others are truly feeling towards us.
The Deep Choice That Determines Influence
So no matter what you are doing on the outside, people primarily respond to how we are feeling about them on the inside. And how we are feeling about them depends on whether we are in or out of the box towards them. Let’s use an example again to explore the difference:
You get on a train and you are one of the first passengers. You find a nice window double-seat and you spread out. You spread your bags out, your newspaper and you ooze of importance, hoping you will get the seats for yourself. Every time someone walks by to find a seat you hope they won’t choose your seats and you look as uninviting as possible.
You get on a train and you find a double-seat amongst the other passengers. After a while a couple comes in with searching eyes, looking for somewhere to sit together. You see that these people would like to sit together and you offer the two seats to them and find another seat for yourself.
This example shows two different ways of seeing other people. The first situation exemplifies a person that sees other’s needs as less important than his or her own. This person sees other people as objects, threats and problems and seems to have a sense of entitlement. Whereas the second situation exemplifies a person who sees people in need of seats and do not privilege own needs and desire over theirs. To this person, his or her needs aren’t superior to others.
However, isn’t it the case that the people getting on both trains were people with comparable hopes, needs, cares and fears and that all of them had more or less the same need to sit? If that is true, the first person has a big problem because his/her view reveals entitlement and the person feels superior to those people still looking for seats. Those people are somehow inferior or less deserving to this person. In fact, this first person’s view of himself/herself and them is distorted from the reality that all of them were people with more or less the same need to sit. In this sense, this person’s view of the world is a systematically incorrect way of seeing others and himself/herself. But this person is not aware of the problem with what he/she is doing, this person is self-deceived or in the box.
So as you see, you can either see people straightforward, as they are, as people like yourself, who have needs and desires just as legitimate as yours, or you can’t. One way, you experience yourself as a person among people or you experience yourself as the person among objects. One way you are out of the box and the other way you are in the box.
People or Objects
So remember that we sense how others are feeling towards us? It is exactly to that people also respond. People primarily respond to how you are being, and not what you do, no matter if you are in or out of the box towards them. This does not mean that we cannot deliver messages to other people that are somewhat hard. The point is that it is possible to deliver even hard messages and still be out of the box when doing it. But it can be done out of the box solely if the person you deliver the hard message to, is a person to you. And the reason why it is important is also the kind of response the message invites. Being out of the box, delivering a hard message is more likely to invite a more productive response. So regarding hard messages or more generally hard behavior, there is a choice: We can choose to be hard and invitee productivity and commitment or we can choose to be hard and invite resistance and ill will. And this choice is not about being hard or not, it is about being in the box or not.
Basically, it is something deeper than just behavior that determines our influence on others, and it is whether we are in or out of the box. Like the example of the train passenger, your view of reality is distorted and you don’t see yourselves and others clearly. This creates many kinds of problems for the people around us, so let us learn more about the box.
How we get in the box
To understand how we actually get in the box, we will use an example again, this time from the workplace:
You are at work and a you see your colleague with her hands full, eyes wide open and you know she has been heavy loaded for a while. But maybe so have you. But still you get this sense or some kind of instinctive urge to get up and help your colleague carry the load. This sense is very basic actually...
When we are out of the box and seeing others as people, we have this basic sense about others; That they have hopes, needs, cares and fears like ourselves. And as a result of this sense, we have these impressions of things to do for others, things we think might help them, things we can or want to do for them.
So, let’s get back to the example… You had the sense to get up and help your colleague, but you didn’t act on it. Now, you might say that in that situation, you betrayed your sense of what you should do for your colleague, in acting contrary to the sense of what was appropriate and betraying your own sense of how you should be towards another person. And so we call this act self-betrayal.
Maybe you know or recognize this one - You get into an elevator and as the doors start to close, you see someone racing to the door. In this instant, you might have a sense that you should catch the door for this person. But you don’t. You just let it close while you see this person’s outstretched arm. Have you ever tried that?
Or the time you felt you should apologize to someone, but never really got around to do it? Or the time you knew you had some information, that would be helpful for your colleague, but kept it to yourself?
Basically, acting contrary to what I feel I should do for another is called an act of self-betrayal. And when I betray myself, I begin to see the world in a way that justifies my self-betrayal.
The point is my perception after I betray myself. Once you betray yourself, you start to see others and yourself differently. Your thoughts and feeling will begin to tell you that you are justified in whatever you are doing or failing to do.
And with this justification, you are inflating the other person’s faults. So even if someone is lazy or inconsiderate, you are making the person more lazy and inconsiderate than he/she really is. And that is something you are doing, not something the other person is doing. Only after you failed to help the person, does its faults seem relevant to whether you should help or not. So you inflate the other’s faults and at the same time inflate your own virtue. You start to blame the other person after you betray yourself, after you fail to help. You are not blaming when you just felt you should help.
So, you are not only seeing the other person unclearly, you are also seeing yourself unclearly after you betray yourself. This means that when you see the world through self-justifying eyes, your view of reality becomes distorted and when you betray yourself you enter the box. Self-betrayal is how you enter the box!
Life in the Box
So now we have learned that as people, we have a sense of what other people might need and how we can help them. When we have this sense and go against it, then we betray our own sense of what we should do for someone and we call it self-betrayal. And when we betray ourselves, we start to see things differently, our view of ourselves and others is distorted in a way that makes us feel ok about what we are doing. We start to see the world in a way that makes us feel justified in our self-betrayal. This is what is called the box, we go into the box when we betray ourselves and the self-justifying ways of seeing ourselves arises when we need to be justified. So now we’re ready to consider how we actually carry these boxes with us.
Over time, certain self-justifying images become characteristics of you. These images are the form your boxes take as you carry them with you into new situations. So over time, certain boxes become characteristic of you and you carry them with you.
This also means that you might lose touch with the feeling that you betray yourself in specific moments in order to be in the box, because you might already be in it. To the extent that we carry these self-justifying images with us, we take them with us into new situations and enter the new situations already being in the box. We don’t see people as people, but in terms of the self-justifying images we have created. So if people act in ways that challenge the claim made by a self-justifying image, we see them as threats. Whereas if they reinforce the claim made by a self-justifying image, we see them as allies. If they fail to matter to a self-justifying image, we see them as unimportant. Whichever way, there are merely objects to us as we are already in the box. And since we are in the box toward someone, we usually won’t have feelings to do things for them. You might find it useful to consider if you are carrying around some self-justifying images?
For example, you can have a self-justified image about being learned, which will be the very thing keeping you from learning. So these self-justifying images are actually lying to you and a self-justifying image on being learned such as this, actually makes you more concerned with yourself, how you look and knowing everything isn’t really the major concern.
Since most walk around with some self-justifying images they are carrying with them, they are already in a defensive posture, ready to defend these images against attack. The impact you have on others when you are in the box is that you are blaming others. So by being in the box and blaming others, you invite them to be in the box too. The others, by being in the box in response invite you to stay in the box, so:
Simply by being in the box, you provoke others to be in their box as well.
When someone is in the box this kind of self-provoking patterns always emerges. In some way, we actually provoke each other to do more of what we say we don’t like. In this sense, when being in the box, the effect of what we do, is not inviting more of what we say we want, but exactly what we say we don’t want.
In this situation, it is difficult to see what you are actually doing, especially since you are in the box, self-deceived, not seeing clearly and blind to the truth about yourself and others. In such case, you don’t see others as persons, but as objects to blame, which is then what they respond to.
In the box, there is something you need more than what you think you want most, but you are blind to your own motivations as well, and what you need most when you are in the box - is to feel justified.
In order to feel justified or right in blaming, you need the other to be blameworthy, so in situations where others are actually doing what you thought you wanted, you will probably still blame them as you need them to be wrong in order to feel justified. In this sense, you probably can’t even let others be good enough, but need them to be a problem, to feel justified in seeing them as a problem. So we can’t see how the box itself undercuts our every effort to obtain the outcomes we actually want, because everything we do in the box just provokes the other to be opposite of what we really want the other to be.
When we provide each other with these justifications, it is almost like you have colluded to do so. So it looks like you agreed to say: “I’ll mistreat you, so you can blame your bad behaviour on me, if you’ll mistreat me, so I can blame my bad behaviour on you”. When two or more people are in their boxes towards each other, mutually betraying themselves, we call it collusion. We collude in condemning ourselves to ongoing mutual mistreatment. Not because we like being mistreated, but because the box lives on the justification it gets from our being mistreated.
And here is the irony of being in the box: You bitterly complain about someone’s poor behaviour towards you, and the trouble it causes you, but you also find it strangely delicious. Since the behaviour that I complain about, is the very behaviour that justifies me.
So in the box, we invite mutual mistreatment and obtain mutual justification - We collude in giving each other reasons to stay in the box. But why do we care about all this at eGro? and what does it have to do with work?
Well, It has everything to do with it…
As we are in the box, we will invite others to be in the box as well, and we will end up having all kinds of problems or conflicts, that gets in the way of what we are actually trying to do.
And what we are trying to do, is to achieve our company’s goals - Achieve results. But the effect the box has on our collective ability to achieve results, is that we can’t really achieve results like we otherwise could. Because in the box, you are entirely focused on yourself, and you can’t focus on results when you are focused on yourself.
Even people who think they are results-focused, value results mainly to sustain their reputations. They don’t feel other’s results are as important as their own, and they run all over people trying to get their own results, with damaging effects. In the end, they are focused on themselves, and like others in the box, they can’t see it. The devastating effects of this could be to withhold information, thus giving others reasons to do the same – Because in the box you provoke others to get in their box too remember?. This would mean that other team members are provoked to fail to focus on results as well, as the collusion spreads far and wide. It turns coworkers or departments against each other. And that is why we care so much about it at eGro.
If you are feeling doomed now, don’t lose hope! The solution to this problem of self-betrayal, is the solution to all people problems. So let’s go back to that: Self-betrayal is the germ that creates the disease of self-deception, and self-deception has many symptoms, such as lack of motivation, stress and communication problems. Symptoms by which organizations die. And that is because those who carry the germ, don’t know that they are.
There is a specific self-betrayal, that almost everyone shares at work. It has to do with our failure to do what we were hired to do, to focus on helping the organization and its people achieve results. The key to solving most people problems troubling organizations will be to discover how we can solve that foundational workplace self-betrayal.
How to get out of the box:
In this very moment you sit and wonder – But how do I get out of the box?
You might sit and regret how you have acted towards colleagues or loved ones and in that moment, you see them as people, not as objects. In that moment, they are people to you. This is where resentment, blame or indifference is gone. You see others as they are, and you regret having treated them as less than that. In that moment, feeling the desire to be out of the box towards them - You are already out of the box towards them!
The question of how do I get out of the box, really has two questions:
1) How do I get out?
2) How do I stay out?
So when you feel you want to be out of the box for someone, you’re already out, because you’re seeing them now, as a person.
But to stay out of the box towards them – Particularly for our purpose in the workplace, there are some specific things we can do.
First, It can help to understand how we don’t get out of the box.
In the box, when we think that others have the problem and spend a lot of energy trying to change others, it doesn’t work, it doesn’t get us out of the box. Because, you are trying to change them because in the box, you think they need to be changed, and that’s the problem. This doesn’t necessarily mean that no one needs to improve, and while it’s true that others might have problems they need to solve, in the box, you think that their problems are the reason you’re in the box, but it’s a misperception. And remember, when you are in the box and trying to get others to change, you actually don’t invite them to change as you’d like, you’ll end up provoking just the opposite, more of the thing you set out to change.
So the first thing that doesn’t work in the box is trying to change others. Even trying to just cope with others has the same deficiency as trying to change the other person; It’s another way to continue blaming, since it communicates the blame of my box, which invites those I’m coping with to be in their box. Or you can leave, because you think the problem is in others, when in fact it’s in yourself. When you are in the box, the box goes with you and so leaving is just another way to blame. You might think communication would work, but think about what you will communicate while you are in the box? You will communicate that what you are feeling towards the other person, which is all of these enlarged bad things. Even being a skilled communicator still does not get you far, since you will communicate your box – hence blaming, and any communication skills are unlikely to hide that blame. This goes for other skills as well. Using a skill in the box won’t be the way out of the box. Helpful skills or techniques aren’t helpful when they are done in the box. It just gives people more sophisticated ways to blame. So, maybe you think, that the only thing left to do, to get you out of the box is to try and change yourself and your behavior? And this is a tricky one. Remember earlier when we mentioned that people can sense what others are feeling towards them? Let’s take an example:
Sara and Alejandro work on the same team. They always seem to dance around each other and that creates problems for the team. Sara says, that she don’t not know what to do, that Alejandro doesn’t seem to want to cooperate with her. And no matter what she does Alejandro does not seem to think Sara has any interest in him, even though she asks about his family and invites him for lunch. But consider this; when Sara goes out of her way to do these things for Alejandro so that he will know she has an interest in him, what is she most interested in – Him or his opinion of her?
In this example, maybe Alejandro thinks Sara is not really interested in him, because she is more interested in herself. It simply shines through that Sara does not really mean it. So even though Sara had changed her behavior towards Alejandro to let him know, that she was concerned about him, changing her behavior did not work, since Sara did not really care about Alejandro and that is what he understood through Sara’s outward changes. Since Sara was in the box towards Alejandro, everything she tried from within the box, was just changes within the box. So changing yourself radically does not get you out of the box - When you don’t really mean it. And that is the point; In the box, you can’t mean it. You can just change your style of being in the box while others still remain objects to you. So merely by changing your behavior, you can’t get out of the box. You can’t get out by continuing to focus on yourself, which is what you do when you change your behavior in the box. Below is the list of things that doesn’t get you out of the box:
What doesn’t work in the box
1) Trying to change others
2) Trying to “cope” with others
5) Implementing new skills or techniques
6) Changing my behavior
But there is a way out, different than anyone generally supposes. You might struggle to get out of the box if you are trying to identify a behavior that gets you out, since the box itself is deeper than behavior. This also means that the way out of the box, is deeper than behavior.
The way out
So we need to go back to self-betrayal and the box again.
When you live your life, in the box, you are resisting others. You are resisting since self-betrayal is not passive; When you are in the box you are actively resisting what the humanity of others calls you to do. Like the example of betraying yourself when you resist the sense of helping your colleague or what you should do for her, and in resisting that sense, you begin to focus on yourself and see the colleague as undeserving of help. This self-deception of the box is created and sustained through the active resistance.
We change in the moment we cease resisting what is outside our box – Others.
When we stop resisting others, we are out of the box and liberated from self-justifying thoughts and feelings. So the way out of the box is right before our eyes – It is the people we are resisting right in front of us. We can stop betraying ourselves towards them and we can stop resisting them.
When you think about how you can do that, think about how, toward any one person or group of people, you are either in or out of the box at any given moment. Since you have many people in your life, some of them you are in the box towards more than others and so you can be both in and out of the box at the same time- In towards some and out towards others. This might provide you leverage to get you out of the box in areas of your life where you might be struggling.
So even though you can’t do anything from within the box to get yourself out, there are out-of the-box-moments provided to you by out-of-the-box-relationships and there are many things we can do that help reduce our in-the-box-moments and heal our in-the-box-relationships.
When you start questioning your own virtue, or question if you are in fact out of the box in your life, you can start to transform your view of others. You might even discover hypocrisy in your anger and you begin to see and feel straightforwardly. People seem different in the moment you get out of the box, as you don’t have the need to blame and inflate their faults. In that moment we know we need to honour them as people, and we see them as persons with needs, hopes and worries as legitimate as our own.
The key to staying out is at the feeling – You choose to honor the sense rather than betray it.
This does not necessarily mean that we end up doing everything we feel would be ideal or get overwhelmed with burdensome obligations. We also have our own responsibilities and needs that require attentions. It just means that we do the best we can under the circumstances and that we are seeing others as people.
Leadership out of the box
Most people are grateful for being employed and starting a new job with new opportunities. They want to do what is best for the company and help it and its people achieve results. Interviewing the same people one year later, usually things look different. They might have problems in the areas of commitment, engagement and working as a team, and off course it is everyone else in the company causing the problems in their opinion. But now we know better – We know now that we blame because of ourselves, not because of others.
But this new knowledge can be used to blame just as anything else, and solely knowing the material does not get you out of the box. Living it does. And if we are using the material to diagnose others, we are not living it. Rather, we are living it when we are using it to learn how we can be more helpful to others. So here are some things to keep in mind to do just that:
- Knowing the material
- Self-betrayal leads to self-deception and “the box”
- When you’re in the box, you can’t focus on results
- Your influence and success will depend on being out of the box
- You get out of the box when you cease resisting other people
- Living the material
- Don’t try to be perfect
- Do try to be better
- Don’t use the vocabulary “the box” etc. with people who don’t already know it
- Do use the principles in your own life
- Don’t look for other’s boxes
- Do look for your own
- Don’t accuse others of being in the box
- Do try to stay out of the box yourself
- Don’t give up on yourself when you discover you’ve been in the box, just keep trying.
- Don’t deny you’ve been in the box when you have.
- Do keep trying
- Don’t focus on what others are doing wrong
- Do focus on what you can do right to help
- Don’t worry whether others are helping you
- Do worry whether you are helping others
The thing that divides fathers from sons, husbands from wives, neighbors from neighbors - The same thing divides coworkers from coworkers. And companies fail for the same reasons as families do. For those coworkers I am resisting are themselves fathers, mothers, sons, daughters brothers, sisters.
A family and a company are both organizations of people, and that is what we know and do our best to live by at eGro.
We try to design everything, to help avoid self-betrayal and stay out of the box. So we need everyone to support our path to develop a culture where people are invited to see others as people.
The eGro way
Besides our culturally shapen expectations and obsession with a book about boxes, there are certain actions we live by daily, that simply has to do with the eGro way. The eGro way helps us shape and define our culture.
We have a special rule about lunch time. This rule is made to give our heads the breaks they needs, to respect break time as no work time. This means that at lunch there is no work talk! Additionally, we strive to eat together as a team and that requires our team members to take their lunch into account. It is easy to store a lunch in the fridge and prepare it in the kitchen, but there is also the possibility of going to the nearest Netto or a takeaway shop. We are not trying to decide what you eat, instead the intention it to help shape a structured day at the office, where efficiency is high and we also get the breaks we need.
Structure for ventilating
We have created a weekly Check in and Check out, where the team uses around 15 minutes to structure their work, share with the rest of the team their current status, even questions we have for eachother. By the end of the check ins/outs we also have the possibility to share possible Juhu’es and Frustrations. The Juhu’es are about sharing something you are excited about; a success or even a failure you learned from, but can also relate to other joys in our personal lives. The frustrations are more about ventilating any possible frictions and an opportunity to say what needs to be said. The Frustrations, like the Juhu’es can also be related to your personal life, but here it is important to share the frustration around the process in a way that does not feed to the negativity, but lets it go instead. The reason why we share elements from our personal lives, is because we see each other as people and also because it can be helpful for other team members to gain an understanding of where you are, so they can treat you accordingly.
Facebook, Messenger, phone calls, text messages, whatsapp, smoke signals … there are many ways to contact each other nowadays, and being available on multiple different platforms is not the eGro way! We wish to create a solid work life balance and how we communicate with each other is the first step.
We want to create a feeling of respect for each other’s work/life balance. This means, that when something is related to the work we do at eGro, we communicate by email. In this way, you know you are entering a “work space” when you open your email, and you have the freedom to use the rest for “personal space”
Set up meetings by inviting people through Google Calendar, this way we don’t disturb each other constantly, and we can compress the necessary questions etc. into a gathered structure.
Electronics settings environment; set your devices when entering location to silent and control your environment impact.
The same goes for your general behaviour. This means that when you come in the office, you enter quietly to not disturb the people already in their working bubble.
Body Awareness Therapy (BAT)
BAT is a fairly new action we have taken to improve our team’s life balance. When we talk about work/life balance and people first, this actually means that we want to take care of the life balance part it. We believe that the better we are balanced in our personal life, the better we can perform at eGro. Practically, it has been Freja who have facilitated the team through different exercises. The exercises are designed to connect you to your body and center
List of references:
- Katzenbach & Smith (1993) The discipline of teams. Harvard Business Review, 83(7/8): 162-171.
The Arbinger Institute (2000) Leadership and Self-deception: Getting Out of the Box. Berrett-Koehler Publishers, Inc. San Francisco