Change Management Training Change Culture

Don't Discount The Part You Play

There’s this notion in complexity theory called “the butterfly effect.” It’s about how complex adaptive systems—like companies, weather patterns, stock markets, etc.—can be powerfully affected by very small, remote influences.

Edward Lorenz, a meteorologist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, wrote about it in a paper which raised the question, “Does the flutter of a butterfly’s wings in Brazil set off a tornado in Texas?”

His point: Small acts can have huge consequences.

As it relates to culture, the butterfly effect implies the far-reaching power that might be possible from a single employee’s behavior.

Everyone in the organization leaves their fingerprints on the culture. Sure, some people shape it more than others, whether because of their position or as a result of the raw power of their personality. But each person carries...