|READY, SET, WO: WORKING WITH READINESS?|
|Bob Benwick, MSc. OD, MCC, PCC, CPCC|
|I happen to be at what is referred to as a ‘Real Time Large Scale’ change event that EDS was engaged in. They had brought together their top 400 leaders within their global operations a number of years ago to meet over a two day period to gain a collective understanding where they were at strategically, obtain a clear picture of what better would look like, agreement as to what they needed to do to move forward and achieve what it was they wanted, and to work on initial plans to develop their capability to successfully make it happen. |
As the Vice President-Human Resources & Organization Development of a large financial firm at the time, I had brought with me the CEO and the Vice President-Finance of the organization. The objective was to provide my associates with the opportunity to watch a large-scale event happen first hand and then decide whether to bring this particular approach to our own organization.
The experience absolutely bowled my associates over when they experienced first hand the enormous level of collaboration, the open sharing of thoughts, feelings and wants by all participants in a way that was designed to fully engage their hearts and minds. The level of positive high energy, caring, and openness was palpable in a very large meeting room organized specifically for this unique event.
At one of the breaks on the second day of the event I approached the two Organization Development consultants who had been contracted to lead the design and delivery of this amazing event. They were Kathy Dannemiller and Jake Jacobs. Both global leaders in the field of organization development, and in particular, the facilitation of large-scale real-time strategic change events such as this one. These events range from facilitating anywhere between a couple of hundred up to thousands of organizational participants at a time. Both are remarkable people. Unfortunately Kathy is no longer with us, but is key to my next experience.
I walked up to both of them and asked. “So how do you think the process is going? Are the participants . . . the organization . . . where you think they should be?” I thought this was a pretty mundane question that would beget a simple response. But that didn’t happen. Instead I received a very perfunctory comment from Kathy that literally made me step back. Learning doesn’t always come in pleasant doses. She turned around and simple said to me, “Listen my friend (we knew each other relatively well), they are exactly where they should be! It ’s irrelevant where we think they should be! It’s where they are now that we need to work with. They will move forward at a speed that works for them. So what’s your next question.” Jake was sitting to the side and just smirked. This was Kathy-forthright, authentic, completely honest and tended not to pull punches. That’s why anyone who was open to truly learning and growing loved her. She was always free in the gift of her skills, knowledge and experience and never hesitated to be there for you and give when asked. She never hesitated to cut to the quick and call a ’spade a spade’ as they say.
From this I developed a profound understanding of what it takes to ‘be’ with clients and work with them at their readiness level. Even if you want them to be two light years ahead of where you think they should be, it’s where they are ‘now’ that is most important. It’s about them and not you. When that happens, it takes enormous pressure off you as an agent of change whether you are a leader, manager, consultant or coach. Work where with where your clients, staff, boss, customers, etc. are at.
I’ve found this gold nugget has paid off huge dividends. Does this experience resonate with yours? What’s in working with others’ readiness for you? When you honor this, what’s in the payoff? If you ignore this, what are the consequences? Where might this be of value ‘back at the ranch’? I would love to hear your thoughts and feelings?