Memory foam

Picture thanks to snugmattress

What is all the fuss with memory foam? How hard is it to remember that you are an oblong?

These days you can’t watch television for very long before seeing an advert for a memory foam mattress. I don’t get them to be honest. I have slept on a few and found them not to my taste. They were like sleeping on a sponge, which I guess is what they are. They are supposed to mould themselves to your shape only to bounce back to their original form once you have got up.

You couldn’t bend wire my shape and so why would I want that? What I really want is something that retains the shape I should be rather than the shape I have become. A mattress should be restorative rather than imitate.

Yet memory foam is not the only thing that seems to remember, organisations do the same. Somehow they seem to remember their original shape. No matter how you squash them and squeeze them they bounce back to where they were given half a chance. People may come and people may go. In fact all the people may have changed yet the organization still retains a memory of itself.

Its culture resolutely retains the shape it was given a long time ago. The ghosts of the past live on in its assumptions and beliefs, its artifacts and relics, its practices and traditions.

This does not mean that culture change is impossible, just hard. It takes a mammoth effort, like changing the direction of an oil tanker at sea. It requires constant reminders, constant pressure and constant replacement of the new paradigm. A momentary lapse will allow the tides of the old way to flood the breached defences.

The mind takes its stories and shaped them into memory. They sit, waiting to be recalled when the status quo is under threat. The memory struggles with change. It tries to make sense of what has happened by reordering its experiences.

Culture change is hard. You are fighting memory foam.

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