Understanding the strategic memes

When NASA said it would put a man on the moon by the end of the decade, it created a rallying cry that its staff, its suppliers and the taxpayers could rally round – here was a chance for greatness coupled with a sense of urgency.  It carried a set of strategic memes that made everything possible.  

But what matters to you is not the strategy you have written down in your vision and mission statements, but the strategy that runs in your people’s heads.  In this article we will look at how to identify what the strategic memes of your organisation really are.

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Understanding the tactical memes

In how organisations work we looked at examples of tactical memes: they are the way an organisation does business, and they can be found in process manuals, reports, management information, appraisal systems and a host of undocumented rituals.  Considering that many of the factors that drive the need for change will be driven by meme clashes, you need to understand them.... but I have yet to meet an organisation where the number of tactical memes did not number in the hundreds.

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Preparing for change

In this article we will look how to create a vision that is distinctive, easy to understand, useful, self-reinforcing, evangelisable, repeated, consistent with what the audience already believes, and works with all the other factors that we’ve already discussed on this site.  We'll also look at how to detect the immune system you have to defeat, and ways of tailoring your message based on the deeply-embedded memes in your targets' heads, such as national culture.

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Diagnosing meme clashes

Bearing in mind my hypothesis that the best-run businesses are those with the most consistent set of memes, the next step in changing your organisation for the better is to identify clashing or inconsistent memes.  We've talked about finding the strategic memes and the tactical memes, now let's look at how to identify precisely what you need to change.

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Introducing new memes

So by now you should have mapped the strategic and tactical memes, and identified meme clashes, as well as designing the target memes. You will now need to weaken the immune system that protects the current set of organisational memes, inject your new memes, monitor and amend as necessary, and finally strengthen the immune system to protect your new culture.

Read more: Introducing new memes