Culture Scout: 2 good reads and 1 good listen

This week’s Culture Scout uncovers a trove of survey data on trust and racial injustice, authors who take innovation down a notch, and an old, gold look at why meetings can be so awful. Take a look:

1. A survey surfaces glaring trust issues around return to work

A Sept. 8 study out from global communications firm Edelman has some disturbing news for CEOS, Axios says.  A mere 14% trust CEOs or senior managers to lead the return to work, and only half think their offices are safe. The survey is full of eye-openers, including this one: Most CEOS are looking for vaccines to open the doors on returning to work, but as of now, 42% of Americans say they’re unsure of or won’t take a vaccine. 

The survey also tackled racial justice issues, and has one bright spot for companies:

Axios story excerpt:

“People have placed far more trust in companies to respond to racial injustice (71%) than in the government (36%).”

2. Contrarian food for thought on innovation

While companies chase the shiny prize of innovation, they are ignoring the people who actually keep stuff running. So says a new book, “The Innovation Delusion: How Our Obsession with the New Has Disrupted the Work That Matters Most,” authored by professors Lee Vinsel and Andrew Russell and profiled in the Eurasia Review. The authors argue that innovation obsession has created an overblown fear of falling behind, while ignoring the “maintainers” of the business world who are often unsung but mission critical in ensuring business success. 

Eurasia Review excerpt:

“It’s not all doom and gloom: the book also cites many instances of maintainers who are fighting for their empowerment, as well as diffusing the maintenance worldview in a wider culture that’s become enamored by the “disruption” mindset.  Listed are the authors’ Three Principles of Maintenance: maintenance sustains success, maintenance depends on culture and management.” 

3. Now more than ever, stop having awful meetings

Public radio used the end-of-summer lull to rebroadcast a Freakanomics podcast that debuted in Sept. 2019, called “How to Make Meetings Less Terrible.” The podcast put words behind what we all know: That most meetings are largely unproductive, discourage healthy conflict and yet we still have them even though we hate them. This timeless podcast delves into all of these issues, and is even more relevant as today’s remote meetings add an extra layer of annoyance. Well worth listening to, and heeding. If you’d rather read, there’s a transcript take at Medium. 

Excerpt from the ‘Terrible Meetings’ podcast:

“Unhealthy peace can be as threatening to human connection as unhealthy conflict. And in my experience, because of the norms of our culture, and particularly in the U.S., most of our gatherings suffer from unhealthy peace, not unhealthy conflict.”

Related Resources