Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Get On The Bus

Many leaders are familiar with Jim Collins, author or co-author of well know business leadership books including Good to Great, Built to Last, and Great by Choice.

One theme that runs through all of Collins’ work the concept of “getting the right people on the bus.” This concept pictures a company as a bus, and employees as the riders on the bus, and argues that successful organizations don’t start down the road without first getting “the right people on the bus, the wrong people off the bus, and the right people in the right seats.”

I am very proud of the fact that Imagine!’s employees are overwhelmingly the right people sitting in the right seats on our particular bus. Yes, we serve individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities, but I firmly believe if we were suddenly tasked with doing something completely different, like say, selling shoes, we’d still be successful. The team is strong, and their creativity and skill sets would translate to success in any number of ventures.

A recent company-wide team building effort demonstrated this fact to me quite clearly. Employees across departments and pay grades formed teams to compete in an online nutrition program called “Mix It Up.” What started as a simple competition to encourage healthy eating quickly became very competitive (in a fun and friendly way). Teams tried to outdo each other not only by eating better, but also by coming up with clever team names and uploading humorous pictures (some examples are included here). Rules were studied very closely to see where an advantage might be gained, and the scoring system was analyzed over and over to ensure maximum points for participants. During the contest, you couldn’t walk down a hall at one of our office buildings without hearing some discussion taking place about the contest and what teams were doing. The company as a whole put a great deal of energy, time, and commitment into participating in (and trying to win – even though no one knew what winning meant with respect to prize) the contest.

My point? The team building exercise showed that we already had a strong, creative, hard working, and dedicated team. In some ways, the actual contest didn’t matter. The right people were already on the bus, and the only thing that changed was the destination. It was simply another opportunity for Imagine! employees to be creative, to have fun, and more importantly insure the success of one another.

I also saw how teams would support each other and offer help when needed. The participants were working toward a common goal, and success could only be achieved if teamwork was involved. That is something that I see every day as we work to overcome the obstacles that prevent the individuals we serve from becoming fully participating members of their communities.

It was an enjoyable contest, and very illuminating as to what caliber of employees we have at Imagine!. I look forward to the next one!

Then again, what do I know?

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