NSC: Way of Being 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.
In January 2010, I was brought in to discuss how improving their understanding of how the brain works could enhance their awareness and their efforts to fully embody and support the ongoing development of the company’s desired ‘way of being’. We worked on specific ideas regarding how to understand and talk about the ‘way of being’, and programs & communications to support it, and to deepen this understanding throughout the organization. At the end of Day 1, the group was excited with what they had come up with so far and eager to start spreading it to the rest of the company.
To start Day 2 we did a PD Insights session designed to elicit the group’s deeper feelings and perceptions about the overall emphasis of the ‘way of being’ and the plans to expand the concepts to the rest of the company.
The results were in contrast to the feelings clearly expressed at the end of Day 1. There were some areas of significant disconnect between what was being expressed openly, and what was felt and perceived at a deeper level. Gentle probing, guided by the data, revealed that several of the management team members had serious concerns about the challenges of taking these ideas to their broader community. They felt that there were particular areas of the organization, and specific individuals, who would likely have significant resistance to what we had discussed as our preferred ‘way of being”.
These concerns could have remained unspoken—in fact, at the beginning of the exploration of the PD Insights results, some of the team members with the biggest concerns couldn’t identify the reasons behind their feelings of uneasiness and hesitation. But, by uncovering the concerns early, the group was able to address the challenges as part of the planning process rather than having to react to unanticipated resistance later when it arose. The result was a much more thoroughly thought out and realistic implementation plan.