martes, 9 de junio de 2015

¿Somos todos ratas? Sobre aquello que crea cultos, clanes y culturas: el lenguaje y la retórica



Are we all rats?

[For Bernie, new partner.]



I just happen to remember the old advice of my behaviorist psychology teacher: “If you feel like a psycho at anytime, just keep talking to yourself that is the only thing that would keep your difference to my rats”. This is a wonderful advice that I have tried to follow all my life.



It happens that I have been recently reviewing the topic of Behavioral Based Safety (BBS) which is frequently linked to B. F. Skinner due to his famous research with rats and other similar beings. The BBS premise is pretty simple: define safe critical behaviors, define at risk behaviors, positively reinforce the first and, if necessary punish the last. But to make sure this truly happens all across the work environment; get all workers involved in the observation and feedback effort. 


Train people to positively reinforce safe behaviors thus creating a social environment where everybody watches everybody regarding their safe behaviors. Provide corrective feedback to those that engage in risky behaviors and if necessary punish.


This seems to be pretty straightforward. In fact you may just substitute safe behaviors for compliance or worship and you may have the beginning of a cult or something similar. Are there any differences? May this be the proper focus to enforce and develop and enforce an organizational culture?


A major difference might be that safe behaviors in BBS are truly death or life preserving behaviors and people on the line define, agree and behave accordingly. 


Cults and organizational culture compliance mechanism have an important difference to the BBS system exposed above: cults and culture compliance are heavily language and ideas based. Of course, your compliance to the cult or your organizational culture will be reflected in overt behaviors – otherwise there is no point on making you a loyal member of the cult or your culture.

The issue here is: how do you suggest, incite or enforce compliance to ideas and then behaviors – or may it be the reverse?

This is where rituals, awards, bonuses, hymns, recognitions, parties and celebrations play a major role.


Thanks goodness we keep talking!  Surely the issue is a matter of this distinctive behavior of we humans: talking, convincing and arguing. So make sure you keep talking to you and the rest of your cult or culture. Otherwise someday someone may not find you any longer useful.