Societal Norms – that web of behavioural expectations that keep us in check.
Societal Norms are an implicit set of unwritten rules in a society that are based on cultural values of a country or region. While some social norms can make quite a lot of sense, others are an historic construct that are not fit for the current world. And we’ve seen droves of Business Dinosaurs lately, trying to make us adhere to the one that says we can only collaborate properly in an office. But, many people are not wearing it. Here’s why:
1. Norms forced us to stick at that unhealthy commute for decades, right?
2. Encouraged us to travel miles to meetings that, for donkeys years, could easily have been conducted over Zoom or the phone
3. For decades we were prepared to sit in doctors surgery, right next to people – some of whom were probably quite contagious – breathing in the same air
Look at how these & other norms have finally been upended by the pandemic? Interesting isn’t it? Of course, society needs law and rules to keep us safe – but that’s the role of legislation.
Code of Conduct
We are taught to follow norms that have been imposed by society at a young age. They provide us with a sort of code of conduct. However, while some social norms really make sense and improve overall quality of life, others may not make sense at all. It’s left to individuals to figure out which social norms benefit our society and which are harmful to humanity.
And what works for one country in terms of the norm social norm, may not work in another. Hence, sitting here in the UK, thinking that this is the standard of how we should behave doesn’t make sense at all from a global perspective.
It gets worse
I believe norms prevent us from thinking for ourselves, constrict our progress and sometimes create a negative mindset. Societal norms restrict our level of freedom and alternative thinking and thus slow down global technological progress. The fact is, we develop fewer new ideas when we don’t think outside the box. The chances for important new inventions become smaller when we comply with social rules.
So why do we bide our time honouring business standards that are no longer fit for purpose?
Let’s start a Revolution!
Let’s face it – what is ‘normal’ for the spider – is absolute chaos for the fly!
Why don’t we rip up the business rules and write newer, smarter ones? Can your Leaders create a beacon of light for the rest of the business world? Shall we break free from the collective web of norms and be a catalyst for change? Which societal norms will you change?
Ruth and Olly help Leaders to turn norms on their head, get creative and forge newer, more appropriate ways of doing business in a modern world.