The Power of Routine

Staff Writer
Mount Shasta Herald

This is an excerpt from my new book, Organizational Psychology for Managers.

My son takes Kenpo Karate. At the end of each class, the instructor has the kids bow and then recite the rules of the school, a short bit about effort and character. The kids then remove their belts and leave the mat. One afternoon, though, instead of the head instructor, one of the other black belts was teaching class. As the class drew to a close, the head instructor stepped onto the back of the mat, kneeled down, and bowed with everyone else. Instead of having the kids recite the rules, the black belt teaching the class told the kids to turn and bow to the head instructor. What followed was a moment of pure confusion: some kids started reflexively reciting the rules. Others half turned, then hesitated when they saw other kids not turning or starting to take off their belts. It took the assistant instructor several tries to get everyone to turn around, bow, and then end class normally.

Classes normally follow a very predictable routine. It always begins and ends the same way. Changing that routine, as the instructor found, isn’t easy. This is true for all manner of organizational routines. It doesn’t matter whether we’re talking about kids or adults: routines are powerful. As we discussed in chapter eleven, athletes use routines all the time to help them focus and prepare for competition.

There are fundamentally two different types of routines: routines that we deliberately create and routines that we just fall into. Both types are equally powerful. However, while deliberately building a routine is generally beneficial, routines we just fall into are as like as not to be counter-productive.

Balzac combines stories of jujitsu, wheat, gorillas, and the Lord of the Rings with very practical advice and hands-on exercises aimed at anyone who cares about management, leadership, and culture.

Todd Raphael


ERE Media