Change vs. Tradition

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Did you enjoy a typical, traditional Thanksgiving dinner, or was it full of little surprises and new twists?

This year, instead of eating around the lunch hour, we had our Thanksgiving feast at 4:00 p.m. Next, someone changed up the traditional broccoli-rice-cheese casserole. If that wasn’t enough, a different stuffing was suggested. Really???

I’m always up for change, but this year I found myself feeling a little uncomfortable with alterations to our traditions, which got me thinking about the significance between change and tradition.

Tradition is a culture keeper. It’s made up of our rituals and beliefs. Tradition makes us feel safe and comfortable because we have a foundation for how things have been and still are conducted. When the next generation continues the tradition, it makes parents or leaders feel successful because the right principles and values are being replicated.

However, safe and comfortable aren’t always what’s best for growing organizations. In fact, if we’re too comfortable with the way things are, then we find it difficult to evolve and change. Change can be seen as the enemy of tradition. At least that’s how I saw it when familiar rituals were altered this Thanksgiving. My mind immediately buzzed with questions. When will we take family photos? How will we catch all the football games? Will we be too full to eat leftovers that night? And as for Black Friday shopping…well no one dared change that one.

The great news is that these changes worked out just fine and were a good fit for our growing extended family. The new twists on the old traditional dishes were wonderful, we fit in the family photos, and one is never too full for leftovers! Thanksgiving was a good reminder to me that while many of us love traditions, tradition is not the same as “the old way of doing things.” The old way of doing things (like recipes) should always be tested and debated and improved! Traditions, like gathering together as a family to celebrate Thanksgiving, are the values that serve to define the standards and boundaries of our family (or our team).

What traditions do you have in your company or family?

What traditions do you need to start in your company or family?

Remember that after you’re gone, someone else may carry on your tradition if you make it fun or memorable enough.

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