Crossing the Chasm: to Create Brilliance [Guest Post by Mike Watson]

Ten people gathered at what could easily have been overlooked as just another business luncheon. A group like so many in today’s organizations that show up but are rarely seen. They exist but do not figure into decisions by leaders who speak about inclusion.

These are the people I am honored to speak to, interact with and the ones that will begin to reshape organizational culture around collaborative trust, sustainable insight and brilliance. These also are the employees that are viewed from the top down as the oil that keeps the machine moving, and like oil, their leaders see their role as one of submission to force, and whose job it is to be pliable and never cause friction.

So why was I honored to be speaking to these particular individuals? Because organizational culture will never change unless the conversations in the culture change. It is these “unseen” workers that have the intellect and the power of being grounded in core human values to shift the conversation from the inside. It will be their words, rising from the bottom up, and expanding from the middle out, that will create positive ripples of intentional conversations and be the impetus for real change.

Most leaders will not change the conversation, and thus the culture, because they are unconscious about their actions and the unintended consequences they create. So it will be the emergence of insight, planted deep in the soil of organizations that will grow upward, pushing through the soil of discarded programs, unrealized missions, and forgotten goals that reorders and realigns the business around meaningful and strategic purpose. These people and millions like them will lead others across the culture chasm that predominates in so many contemporary organizations.

When we, as individuals, learn how to have discerning conversations, and when we are consciously seeking (discerning) possibilities that are overlooked out of politeness, we can then begin to shift the perspective of the company and the leaders from their self induced fog of command and control towards the higher performing model of purpose driven, trustworthy leadership.

76% of current employees are indifferent to their organization, 13% are completely disengaged, and together this accounts for 89% of the typical workforce in any organization (Corporate Leadership Council, 2004 Employee Engagement Survey). This is why there is inconsistent innovation, and lack of commitment to mission. This is the issue and it is the solution. Culture change happens here, in the chasm, not in the boardroom. Stop wasting time waiting on titled individuals to wake up and lead. You, all of you, are leaders. You are capable of quietly, intentionally and respectfully moving performance and culture from mediocrity towards brilliance.

Brilliance then, is not reserved for the few, and getting to brilliance needs to be part of the culture conversation. It is not complex, it takes support, autonomy, and direction, but here is an easy way to begin.

At this luncheon of ten extraordinary people my business partner and I introduced a simple, yet subtly effective tool, the REACH™ model. It can be implemented in a variety of situations to create positive change. REACH™ stands for Reflect, Eliminate, Align, Clarify, and Harmonize. Using the REACH™ tool allows you to consciously reshape perspective in conversations, performance evaluations, and organizational development. It is a pathway for guiding action and people towards cohesive, actionable and worthy goals.

Bruce W. Fritch and Mike Watson, Fritchconsulting.com 

Reflect on: • Organization’s Mission, Vision and Goals • The grand opportunity to set a new emulative standard • The opportunity cost of not crossing the chasm

Eliminate: • Obstacles of all kinds: Political caution, lack of funding, doubt, fear, ineffective tools, inadequate information, poor working conditions, lack of teamwork

Align with: • Core human values • Mission, Vision, Goals

Clarify the way forward: • Root problem analysis • Best solution alternatives • Team operating agreements for extraordinary performance

Harmonize: • Accountability • Sustainability • Trustworthy leadership • Culture in support of Mission, Vision, Values and Goals • Communications with all Stakeholder groups

Remember that what you can imagine you can achieve. Starting today, imagine a culture led by and supportive of brilliance.

Always connecting the unconnected,
Mike Watson, @emcmike, mike@fritchconsulting.com

Mike Watson is an eminence partner at Fritch Consulting. He has been educating, designing and influencing from a leadership perspective for the past 25 years. During this time, he has shaped a national retail company’s visual footprint and brand image, expanded business models, and reshaped careers and communities. For the past five years, Mike has served as the emcee of TEDxCharlotte. He loves being a convener of people and ideas. He can be reached at www.emcmike.com.