3 minute read

2-2-2 is a monthly series that shares 2 top-of-mind ideas on the 2nd 2sday of every month - enjoy!

Thing 1: Trashing Culture

While walking in to work a few weeks ago I saw an employee of a vendor throw his trash at the trash can. Note the phrasing “at the trash can”, since this individual did not succeed in their simple endeavor of properly disposing of their rubbish. And this individual had no choice but to know they failed: they watched their trash miss the bin from 2 feet away.

For those still trying to catch up, I asked AI to depict the scene for me:

Trash on the ground
AI generated - prompt: ‘Please make me an image that depicts an unidentified individual facing away from the audience, and this individual has a piece of trash like a napkin in their hand and they are reaching out to throw away their trash in a black trash can from a few feet away. the setting of the image is a sidewalk in front of a generic industrial grey wall.’

The trash was on the ground, and they were walking away as if that was OK.

Now, I had a few options:

  1. Accost said contractor, pointing to to evidence, using all sorts of hand waving and “trash belongs in the trash can”-style phrases
  2. Quietly double back and put their trash in the receptacle and avoid conflict
  3. Do nothing, and hurry on to my desk

Now, stunning revelation, I did #3 and looking back on it I don’t thing it was the right choice. There are many reasons I did nothing (I was late, the trash was improperly trashed in an area I did not have access to behind a fence, it was cold…). But at the end of the day someone trashed my workplace and I did nothing.

This story got me thinking about the concept of culture, and a few lessons stand out:

  • Culture is the product of what we do AND what we allow to happen. In this example, I wasn’t the one who did anything wrong, but I allowed it to happen and therefore someone now thinks it’s OK to throw trash on the ground at Delta Air Lines.
  • In thermodynamics, entropy (aka disorder) cannot decrease without the use of energy. Restating, order requires an energy injection. In a company, culture requires energy injection. Energy to care, energy to sound the alarm, energy to go to the happy hour, energy to do more than the minimum required….In my example, energy to confront the person who was increasing disorder
  • A rhetorical question: do you have the courage to be a culture keeper? If you saw someone doing something that is against your culture, would you say something? Would you think “I can’t believe that” but let it happen?

Thing 2: The Village Wine Cask

The topic of culture reminded me of a good anecdote to share about why your contribution matters, no matter how small. I have shamelessly stolen the content below from here.

A triumphal feast was scheduled in a village and, in order to ensure that all might enjoy in the feast without imposing upon any few, the villagers all agreed each would put one bottle of his best wine into a great cask for the occasion.

However, upon reflection, one villager reasoned that, if he filled his bottle with water, the dilution would be so slight, no one would notice.

So, the day of the feast arrived, and the great cask was tapped and wonder of wonders…nothing but water poured forth!

Every villager had reasoned alike – my contribution isn’t big enough to be noticed!

Trash on the ground
AI generated - prompt: ‘Please make an image of a large cask of wine (labeled with the word ‘wine’) on top of a platform on a sunny day in a meadow. Around the platform there are quite a few people standing around looking up at the cask. A thin stream of clear blue water is flowing out of the tap onto the ground’