1Rituals for Better Work

The Power of Rituals

Our interest in rituals grew out of our work as designers, as we noticed that some of our most successful projects came when we thought about framing a new product or initiative as a “ritual.” Whether it was in promoting adherence to diabetes regimens, helping people prepare for fighting their traffic tickets, or helping new managers oversee their teams more effectively.5 The frame of ritual worked to make new products more attractive and engaging.6

We observed that when we created things using the patterns of a ritual—even if we didn't call our new thing a “ritual”—it became more likely that people would want to use it, and continue to use it. A ritual sets up a clear path for people to follow, and it calls up a sense of meaning and connection—which drew people in.

Rituals have special power to bond people together and to make sense of their world. As we began experimenting with rituals as a means for individual growth and organizational change at work, we learned that in a very short time and with minimal budget, rituals can bring liveliness, lightness, and a sense of community to a group.

Many scholars in anthropology, psychology, neuroscience, and organizational behavior have developed a strong body of research into how rituals work, and what powers they have. This scholarship can help us understand what the origins of rituals are, in evolution and in history. It also describes how rituals operate, and why they matter so much ...

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