It is time for us to pay attention to our relationships, at work, at home, between nations. I am grateful for the time spent this week with my adult children.
On the plane back from Houton where I attended a Spiral Dynamics conference, I sat next to a delightful gentleman. He was an expat from Mexico, working in the United States for an American company. We got into a great conversation about the many ways people from various cultures view time and how important it is for people to recognize different viewpoints and find synergy between them so they can work well together.
I told him I was very inspired by the Spiral Dynamics model and how it aligns with my understanding of cross-cultural communication, even taking it to the next level of where we can go as leaders. We had a long discussion about what makes a leader go from Good to Great, as he has been inspired by a book of the same name.
Then I asked what business he was in. "Plastics", he said. Of course, my mind goes to Dustin Hoffman in The Graduate which is always brings a smile, then immediately my heart sank a bit. All I could picture was the large island of plastic garbage, stuck and growing in the Pacific ocean, that I had heard about when I attended a lecture in Copenhagen the week of CoP15, the global summit on the environment held in 2009.
I held my tongue for a little while, wanting to be respectful of this kind man and the work he is doing. At the same time, I wanted to make him aware of this very disheartening reality. I asked if he was aware of it. He was not. I suggested he look up "plastic island" and learn more. Perhaps his company might want to do something to help aleviate this situation. After all, doing something about this would be an act of good corporate citizenship.
He seemed interested and I hope he does follow through. I am passionate about our being aware of how we are damaging the earth and in many ways, creating disharmony in our world. My desire is for us to awaken to our responsibilities personally, in our corporations, and our institutions. Our best hope for a positive future is that we can learn to be respectful and creative in new ways so, together, we can do something about it.
I recently read an article from Harvard Business Review that said the happiest people are those working collaboratively on difficult issues. People with less of a stake in their work, says the author, tune out, turn off or think of leaving their position.
Rosabeth Moss Kanter speaks about the passion of social entrepreneurs launching conversation projects or bringing music to disadvantaged youth. What got me excited was to read that she sees the same happiness factor in business teams that are working together to create a new initiative they believe in.
What I've noticed is that while launching creatively into new ways of working together may not always be smooth sailing, once you get through the rougher waters, the joy of co-creating something new does take over. What is possible on the other side of conflict is worth moving towards. When we do that together, it is all the more fun.
IDEO is an award winning product design firm that operates from what they call a human-centered and empathetic approach. Their interest in gathering innovative thinkers from a wide variety of disciplines to come up with the most creative solutions to design problems is inspiring and very much what we advocate at Lenox Leadership Development.
I really enjoyed this "60 Minutes" interview with founder and creative genius extraordinare, David Kelley. With all the multi-colored sticky notes on their walls, it looked a lot like some of the retreats I've hosted!
From IDEO's website: "Design thinking is a deeply human process that taps into abilities we all have but get overlooked by more conventional problem-solving practices. It relies on our ability to be intuitive, to recognize patterns, to construct ideas that are emotionally meaningful as well as functional, and to express ourselves through means beyond words or symbols. Nobody wants to run an organization on feeling, intuition, and inspiration, but an over-reliance on the rational and the analytical can be just as risky. Design thinking provides an integrated third way."
The Harvard Business Review blog is filled these days with articles on collaboration. Today's article, Collaboration is the New Competition, written by Ben Hecht, starts off like this:
"Leaders and organizations are acknowledging that even their best individual efforts can't stack up against today's complex and interconnected problems. They are putting aside self-interests and collaborating to build a new civic infrastructure to advance their shared objectives. It's called collective impact and it's a growing trend across the country.
A diverse group of local leaders — private, public, philanthropic, and nonprofit — fed up with the dysfunction around them, come together to challenge conventional wisdom and fix problems long written off as unsolvable, such as poverty, unemployment, and a failing education system."
As I begin to envision a vibrant Leadership Center in Lenox and invite people into conversation about what that could look like and how it can impact people, organizations and neighborhoods here in the Berkshires and beyond, it thrills me to see all the articles supporting the use of collective intelligence and collaboration that abound.
When all the parts of a system begin working together and there is no “other” to combat or protect against, more innovative and generative solutions start to emerge. I call the process of bringing the whole system into collaboration building a unitive field.
~ David Gershon, Transformational Leader; Author, Social Change 2.0
I am excited that in January 2013 I will begin a Masterclass with David Gershon, one of my very first mentors in the field of transformational leadership. He is offering a free teleseminar highlighting the upcoming program. David is a visionary and world reknowned expert in large system social change.
Hear David speak about Social Change 2.0 this January 13, 2013.