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The use of ritual

March 1, 2008

Rory, who was on the recent Copenhagen Accreditation Programme, picked up on the use of ritual to change the way we think or perceive the world. He makes the point well here. We are forgetting the importance of ritual in organisational design and change. We assume that we can define functions by rules and process which might work for robots and in the imagination of mechanically orientated management consultants, but not for human beings. We are more subtle, less obvious. When I get into a car I always adjust the mirror and run through the gears, small rituals that reorientate my identity towards that of drive. On Rugby international days I have a set of routines, including the donning of the red shirt that change my identity to that of Welsh supporter. I could go on, and I am sure all readers could list similar rituals that assist change. Rory’s military experience provides a good one.

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