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Tame the Primitive Brain: 28 Ways in 28 Days to Manage the Most Impulsive Behaviors at Work by Mark Bowden

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Day 27

Values Trump Rules

Society’s Expectations

Culture eats strategy for breakfast.

—Peter Drucker

Today you’ll tame:

  • Bureaucratic rules for our primeval behaviors
The company had clear values, and one of them was around “wise spending.” Everyone had a shared understanding of what this meant.
So when it came to the financial crunch and the group had to rein in expenses by 10 percent, no one had to put a committee together and take up valuable time and resources hatching an elaborate strategy to make personal cuts to spending.
The CEO simply reminded his team at the yearly meeting about their shared wise-spending value and thanked them for finding their own ways to “live it,” especially when on company business.
He gave a few examples of what he would be doing: When having dinner with a client, he would buy a bottle that was a few dollars cheaper than he would normally spend. When traveling to group meetings, he would check schedules ahead of time to, if he could, share a taxi to the hotel with anyone else on the team—or simply take the shuttle.
He ended by saying, “But it’s up to you how you do this.”
Expenses dropped 15 percent.

Rules are created by tribal leaders (parents, teachers, employers, elected officials) to control the self-centered behaviors of the reptilian brain. “Don’t steal” is designed to control the urge to take food from others; “don’t hit,” to alter the fight response from using fists to using words. All such rules are in support of sustaining the tribe. ...

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