Many a time, I have witnessed good ideas being held back by a simple principle called conformance, which is widely and “successfully” practiced in the corporate world. What is being a conformist mean, and is it relevant anymore in today’s world?
Conformance means two things – you choose to “fall in line” with others in your team or your boss in terms of agreeing with them that the idea on the table which apparently they all support, is indeed the best one deserving your personal support as well. Not only that, you highlight your own philosophy behind your support for that particular idea that everyone else around you seem to be supporting, thereby positioning yourself well in the group and endearing yourself to your boss. Not just a blind support, but a well-thought out, philosophical support that has been so well articulated by you.
So, by being a conformist (other than when you are the main originator of the revolutionary idea yourself), you score a brownie point with your boss and your team (in general). I can tell you that some of your team members would be wondering why you are supporting an idea that they know you do not believe in. May be they will ask you later on! You better be clear and achieve a full clarity in your mind while explaining your rationale to them!!
But then such are the pressures to conform in corporate life.
Things are changing for the better, however, especially in new age companies (which are vastly different from the established traditional corporations) where dissent is accepted and even praised as a “necessity”. A different thought process accompanied by solid logic is viewed very positively in these companies where the leadership is young and energetic, completely open and transparent to an influx of new ideas, even from a newcomer or the juniormost member of the team. In essence, what it means is that the leadership wants new ideas that are different from their own, and also wants the team to reflect the current society so that business customization becomes easier to accomplish.
Why is it so difficult for older companies in traditional fields to open up their staid leadership and business models to similar influences? One reason is that they generally believe in traditional hierarchy and respect experience to the extent that they believe earth-shaking ideas can only come from such an experienced leadership. This is despite the fact their market shares and revenues keep slipping quarter after quarter. The second reason is that these older companies still believe in their invincibility with regard to their hold on the marketplace – in several fields, these very same corporations have defined and created the markets, to start with. How can then these markets just slip away from their hold? Who can challenge the status quo?
Now, we even see social media giants belonging to the new age struggle as well to control and keep hold of the markets that they defined and created. Is it not a similar situation? Yes, it is – the only difference being that in new age companies, the velocity of adjustments and idea assimilation is far higher than in older companies. Notwithstanding the same, struggles happen and continue to happen, and the government, clients, users and media can witness what is going on in a transparent manner.
In a nutshell, it is critical not to hold your thoughts on a specific topic, because your allegiance should be towards the company and its advancement via better sharing of fresh ideas and thoughts which could enhance a process or a system or a product or market strategy or competitive approach, not just to your team or your boss. May be you are moving ahead in a new discovery! Who knows?
So be open and transparent while being consultative and respectful. There is absolutely no need to confirm to an idea in which you don’t believe. Of course, if you like the idea and believe it would work out to the benefit if your company, go for it and support it by all means. It does not matter where the idea came from!
Cheers, and Have a wonderful week ahead, and Wishing all my Chinese readers “Gong Xi Fa Chai”,
3rd February 2019