What's Driving You Crazy
There are events or rituals which integrate and reinforce the subtraction mindset within an organization.
Birthday celebrations. Daily prayers. Sunday night family dinner. These are all rituals. Actions that people do repeatedly, follow a similar script, and are imbued with meaning for people who practice them. Workplace rituals can be designed to help people innovate, build bonds, dampen corrosive conflict, and implement change. Organizations should create and curate their own private collection of workplace rituals, especially those that spur and ease subtraction.
Case studies featuring Subtraction Rituals
The “Smashing The Old Ways” Ritual at Zip Car
Interaction designer, Kursat Oznec and co-author Margert Hagen in their bookRituals at Work outline the “smashing the old ways” ritual to “break from a previous strategy or dysfunctional practice.” Kursat and Margaret describe how the car sharing company Zipcar used this ritual after leaders decided it was time for employees to abandon desktop computers and adopt a “mobile-first” strategy. To mark the change, employees used sledgehammers to smash a couple old desktop computers– which made that abstract management mandate visible, tangible, and palpable!
The “Mourning For The Recently Left” Ritual
Oznec and Hagen note that one of the most jarring and emotionally challenging transitions for many teams is when a difficult colleague has been fired. They created a ritual called “mourning for the recently left” for such occasions. The team gathers together and writes notes about everything they WON’T miss about their departed colleague. Then they write notes about everything they WILL miss. Each remaining team member claims one of those good things and commits to doing it. Then both lists are destroyed– burned, shredded, or if done online, the files can just be deleted.
How to use Subtraction Rituals
Rituals impart a sense of stabilizing normalcy on employees and bonds an organization together in shared experience. Friction fighters should identify habitual moments that can be further emphasized as a uniting force through ritualizing them and tie these to subtraction efforts (Subtraction Rituals will often be used with other subtraction tools, ex. Post-purge a reflective prompt is discussed by each team)