This is a true story.
A friend of mine (who is the father of young kids) finished up a long presentation and blurted out, “excuse me, I have to go to the potty. I’ll take your questions in just a minute”. Later in the bathroom he thought “potty? Did I really just say I had to go potty?!?” This wasn’t just any presentation this was important. Big decisions were on the line. Industry leaders were in the room. So it goes to show how much we are influenced by our environment. Spending so much time with his kids makes “I have to go potty!” rolls right off the tongue.
Most of us unconsciously mimic the language, body language and facial expressions of someone we are having a conversation with. It’s natural and instinctual. Going further there’s a reason why culture is so powerful. Culture is a group’s set of social norms. When I’m having a conversation with someone and they smile when I smile I’m rewarded. The same kind of rewards system plays out for those acting in accordance with a group’s cultural rules. When idea generation is culturally appreciated those who add good ideas to each conversation are rewarded by the group.
No wonder then why culture plays such a big role in innovation. Want innovation in your organization? Will your culture allow it?