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What if I had a Crystal Ball?

Inspired by conversation with peer and good friend @SteveBernard. We’d worked together on a large-scale intervention for a national insurance company. The senior management team were good at modelling and forecasting, working hard and delivering on the direction set. Then the “higher ups” announced a divestment and our clients were faced with uncertainty. So were their teams and the staff below them, with everyone looking for answers.

What if I had a crystal ball? What if I see a perfect future for them? It’s all too easy to bring in expert solutions to relieve their pain (and boost my ego). Thanks to open and honest conversations with @Steve, as well as perfect partnership with @Marc and @Andrea, we needed to help our clients to help themselves. Many had been with the company for years, starting their careers back in the day when hard work was its own reward. Although their loyalty had counted and served them well so far, the new company’s culture and priorities were unknown.

Instead of letting our clients wait to find out their places in the new corporate order, we helped our clients help themselves. Drawing on the best of our combined learning and organisation development skills, we guided them along a journey of personal and professional discovery.

Applying Future Search* technologies, we were trusted to help our clients explore the past and celebrate their achievements. For many, that was hard to do, as they’d been accultured to expect praise from above, rather than each other. Likewise, mapping the present was an opportunity to remove functional blindfolds and come up with a shared understanding beyond any respective silos. The senior management team led by example and were very hard-working. However, making do, whilst striving for improvement, had allowed little time to take stock of what was going well or could be done differently. There was much to be proud of, as well as the odd regret, but overall a collective sigh of relief, then a sense of satisfaction that they’d performed well after all.

Building on this newfound sense of self worth, the senior managers and their teams could envisage their own ideal futures. Realising the options available, ideas flowed and a sense of “we’re all in it together” took over. Action plans that could have taken weeks of endless meetings were developed and decided in less than 30 minutes. Profusive thanks, drinks in the bar and success stories soon followed, but we didn’t need a crystal ball to see that.

*Weisbord & Janoff 2010


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