NSC: The Authentic Community Summit
NovaScotian Crystal is a small east coast creator and retailer of mouth-blown, hand-cut crystal. Founded in 1996, current total staff of about 45. Employees include craftsmen in the old Irish glassmaking tradition, sales/retail showroom, warehouse & shipping, administration (including marketing & IT), and corporate services.
The CEO has always made it clear that the mission of the company goes beyond making money. The preservation of a craft, the enhancement of people’s lives, and the creation of a caring, enlightened community are the real drivers—making money is what makes it possible to keep doing the rest of it.
Each year the management team (9 people from all areas of the organization) gets together for their Management Summit. In the early years, the focus of this management meeting was primarily on building the business – strategic planning, and beginning the process of developing the annual marketing plans. As the company has grown, the focus has shifted to include more explicit attention on the company’s culture, engaging in the exploration and development of their ‘way of being’ as a company and developing into an ‘authentic community’.
In January 2011, I was brought in to facilitate the development of an overall guiding principle for all three sales channels, and more broadly for building ‘Authentic Community.’
Early in the process, several words and phrases were presented as epitomizing the intentions and feeling behind how they wanted to be as an Authentic Community and how that would influence how they present themselves as a company.
We did a PD Insights session to uncover their deeper feelings and perceptions around the words they had chosen. We were able to clearly demonstrate:
- There are a variety of ways in which the words are understood (different contexts, different emphasis, etc.) from person to person.
- There are subtle differences between how people describe the meanings of words when discussing them and what comes out through tapping into their deeper, unconscious perceptions of those words—thus leading to a greater appreciation for the implications of the choice of words to use.
This process lead to explicit discussions about “What do we mean when we say ‘X’?” This provided the opportunity for greater understanding and appreciation for the breadth and depth of meaning among even a relatively small group of individuals. It also provided a process by which we could generate a way of speaking about and understanding the company’s guiding principles, which would lead to everyone being ‘on the same page’, and having greater commitment.