As human beings, we seem to have an inherent aversion to altering our familiar patterns. Think about how hard it is to break old habits and to form new ones, or to see things from another perspective once we have come to view or understand something in a particular way. Instead of trying to change our own way of thinking, we usually try to make things fit with the way we see them. And the whole reason we sometimes get into arguments is because we want other people to see things the same way we do.
Consider, too, how often we find ourselves regularly repeating behavioral routines. For example, think about the way you travel to work every day; the style of clothes you usually wear; the kinds of newspapers, magazines, and books you read; the websites and social media networks you visit most often; the restaurants you eat at regularly and the menu choices you commonly make; the tasks you perform at work every week, the people you usually associate with; and the way you spend most evenings and weekends. How much variation is there really in all of these activities? Even the way we brush our teeth or tie our shoelaces usually follows the same pattern every time.
It’s no different if we look at organizations. Scale up this principle of pattern formation across a large corporation, or even a whole industry, and it’s not hard to see why companies tend to develop a more or less fixed way of thinking about their businesses, and a whole set of static operational routines ...