Habits, Norms, and Rituals in the Modern Organization

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Co-organized with Google

Held at Google in Sunnyvale, CA

Friday, July 29, 2016

media: Google-SFI Rituals Meeting booklet.pdf

Summary: Repetitive forms of behavior span a spectrum from individual habits and group-based social norms, to symbolic forms of collective behavior described as rituals. Habits are repetitious behaviors of which we remain largely unaware, social norms are in some sense “institutionalized” habits of behavior sanctioned by a society, and rituals are akin to norms charged with symbolic meaning. Each of these behavioral mechanisms relate to social coordination, can be thought of as algorithms for solving social optimization, and ultimately as a symbolic means of establishing organizational images and brands. Habits, Norms and Rituals provide the foundations of many organizations. Together they are fundamental to communication, coordination and collaboration in effective organizations. The Santa Fe Institute-Google collaborative ACtioN meeting will address the relevance (and irrelevance) of habits, norms and rituals to modern organizations, especially in our world of rapidly evolving technological dependencies. How can we break old habits and establish new ones, what are the social norms promoting adaptability, and when can ritual be recruited to promote cohesion and effectiveness? This Topical meeting will put the complexity of a behavioral spectrum under the microscope. We shall convene a group of anthropologists, sociologists, psychologists, complexity scientists, and organizational leaders to examine the ongoing and often invisible influence of habits, norms and rituals in the modern workplace.