Do You Have A Workplace Culture, or a Granfalloon?

The Bobs get to the root of what makes a workplace tick.
The Bobs get to the root of what makes a workplace tick.

Who doesn’t think Office Space is a great movie? In the restaurant where Jennifer Aniston’s character works, she is required to wear a minimum number of pieces of “flair”. This is an idea that she cannot seem to tolerate or bring herself to care about. She is not connecting to the desired culture of the company. As so few in that movie do.

Every time I watch this movie, I am reminded of a word that Kurt Vonnegut coined, I believe for his book Cat’s Cradle. Granfalloon. This term is used to describe a group of people who have a common association, but that association is meaningless.

We expect employees to not just come to work, but to work toward the greater purpose of the company. At least for the hours they are doing their job, to be fully committed to working within the culture we have created. And for those who do, and those who see the value in living within the culture, they develop a lot of pride in what they do and how they do it.

But if you cannot effectively connect to the culture, it looks meaningless, or even ridiculous to you. And that’s clear whether you are talking about “flair” or the TPS report cover sheets.

You try to hire people who can adapt to and become part of your defined culture, but that is difficult to get right 100% of the time. You should have an idea about how your cultural norms are designed (or how they just ended up happening) to help people connect to the greater purpose of the enterprise. Otherwise you end up being like the Bobs and just guessing what is working and not working.

Do you  have policies and practices for “flair” that don’t serve a purpose in better results? Don’t let your workplace culture devolve to a granfalloon.

One Response to Do You Have A Workplace Culture, or a Granfalloon?

  1. […] Tim Gardner: Do You Have A Workplace Culture, Or A Granfalloon? Office Space. Kurt Vonnegut. These are but two of my favourite things. Tim unites them both in a fine post on why people find themselves disconnected from “the desired culture of the company.” I think in some ways this post makes for an interesting companion piece of sorts to the post from Jane Watson listed below… Follow Tim on Twitter. […]

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