The survivor mentality in Israeli organizational behaviour

For many reasons which are beyond the scope of this post, Israel and Israelis tend to have a survivor mind set which manifests itself in various domains such as internal politics, policy making and external affairs.

In this post, I will relate to the ways that the survivor mentality manifests itself in organizational behaviour, which is the domain of this blog.

Since there is a lot of deviation within any given population vis a vis specific behaviours, not every Israeli or Israeli organization will display these characteristics.

However I am dealing here with generalizations which are frequent enough to merit mention.

  • Emotional (life is a struggle)
  • Insider-outsider dynamic,or us or against us (friend or enemy?)
  • Paranoid about other’s hidden agendas (can you be trusted?)
  • Fast and responsive (matter of life and death)
  • Lots of argument about minute points; trees are as important as forests; not expedient (it is all about principle, not priority)
  • High level of involvement and commitment (it’s a war)
  • Very pragmatic and action orienteddo anything that works; hands on (shoot, don’t talk)
  • Extremely adverse to planning, preference to improvisation (hush hush about intentions)
  • Points of agreement constantly re-opened and negotiated (win, not win win)
  • Entertainment of parallel strategies all the time; not consistent (one upsmanship)
  • Speed as strategy ; build first and scale later, sloppy (slow and steady looses)
  • Challenge authority constantly but highly loyal in the crunch (commando)

So, what are the keys to being effective when you work with Israelis? The answer is a post in and of itself so I will leave you with 5 tips in the meantime.

  1. Talking on the phone is more effective than email.
  2. Be strong and negotiate all the time.
  3. Avoid expediency which is seen as a near fatal weakness.
  4. Don’t try to buy performance (Your bonus depends on this.)
  5. Discuss underlying trust issues openly. Israel ain’t Japan and the more open you are, the better.

This post is dedicated to my 4th grand daughter Rona, a 5th generation Israeli, born at 9 am this morning after a prolonged 8 minute labour! Speed as strategy.


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25 thoughts on “The survivor mentality in Israeli organizational behaviour

  1. Congratulations! My little daughter bumped out 2 years ago after about 4 hours labour and I thought that was speedy… 🙂 Must be a cultural difference! Best of luck and plenty of shalom to the little one and the happy grandpa!

  2. Mazal Tov Allon,

    fantastic efficiency there with an 8 minute delivery! That must qualify as some sort of record.

    Health, peace and joy to your family.

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