Throughout my career as a strategist, change agent and trusted advisor I have discovered that conversation is at the centre of the most productive and fulfilling work.
I have also observed colleagues from global consulting firms confirming that when they had the courage to put down their corporate methodologies and product tool sets to have a deeper conversation with their clients that this also was when their best and most fruitful work was done.
In my experience strategy can essentially be seen as a conversation – and leadership as permission giving.
Both conversation and permission giving have the power to be transformational in impact – hence why leadership is so important. And why leadership, conversation, story telling and permission giving (permitting failure/having a go) are always at the centre of any effective change.
It was not until I took the time to sit, be still and observe conversations at the “community kitchen table” of my local coffee shop did I see why.
The truism that conversation, connection and relationships are at the heart of work and value in the 21st Century was there to see.
And as I watched, I wanted to understand what was going on and why. Why it was the very thing that many organisations seek and spend lots of consulting dollars to manufacture was organically occurring before me.
The repeated magic around this table was full of Serendipity and Karma.
And it was the very model of the sort of culture and work place everyone would want to work in.
The relaxed formality of this one table enabled everyone to be in everyone else’s conversation. People approached their interactions with openness, playful curiosity and reciprocity. Love, life, work, learning and play were all one.
Who entered the space and how they entered all contributed to the quality of what occurred. The social danced with the physical space – the macro with the micro.
I learnt serendipity requires a degree of reciprocity and positive interactions need authenticity and openness to be present.
I spent twelve months observing, noting and even intervening/experimenting (often without anyone knowing). I discovered certain elements would naturally occur and if they didn’t, one could give them a little nudge to make things bubble along. In time one could see the hidden/unseen elements and understand how the social and physical danced with the other.
I learnt that you could orchestrate the elements of the process without even anyone understanding that there was a process occurring at all. Like a good meal when one understood what the ingredients were and how they interacted with each other one could just place those things together and allow a degree of self organisation to occur. Just the right amount of comfort or perhaps even discomfort – the right amount of stability or instability in the social system – being on the edge of things without ever tipping right over or just falling flat.
That’s what created the value – and is of significant value. For increasingly it is at the intersections that there is real value.
From this journey of discovery I am committed to creating this same experience with my business partners and clients – for increasingly work is perceived to be an experience.
Work and the work place is increasingly becoming a consumerised experience driven by mobile and cloud computing and flexible work arrangements.
While the “what” of work remains important, the how, where, when and with whom work is done is increasingly able to be re-configured in new ways to drive personal productivity and organisational performance.
This is about people, place and performance.
Successful companies are beginning to understand that in a connected world serendipity is the new synergy – that people and place can come together to drive performance. Consequently, to engage their employees organisations now need to understand that are in the [work as] experience business.
After all, life is an experience to be lived. And we are all in the experience business.