Reinventions at Work and in Business: a Ho‘ohana Community Forum

Are you ready to get inspired by a brand new world of work?

Are you up for the challenge of shaking business people out of their comfort zones in the status quo?

Are you one to be involved, engaged, and part of the action?

Well, you’ve arrived at precisely the right place! Welcome to Reinventions at Work and in Business: our Ho‘ohana Community Forum for May, 2006

We have more than doubled last year’s reinvention forum: In what follows, 14 authors from our Ho‘ohana Community share (19…oops) 20 of their ideas with you in the hope you will be energized, enthusiastic and eager to help us reinvent the workplace for the better.

Work can rock the world and make our hearts sing; it can be the stuff we feel our legacies are made of, and it can make a significant difference for our families and in our communities.

As I put this together, I looked back to when we did this for the first time 14 months ago; our objectives have not changed, and we share the same mission of proactively chosen change initiated by a community which is Lōkahi: unified and in harmony. If anything our commitment to each other and to our vision has gotten stronger, and the ranks of our community leadership continually grows larger. Today I bring you the same message I printed here over a year ago:

I encourage you to lead as these business leaders have done. Make the decision to be a catalyst today: don’t leave it for “the other guy” —Reinvention is something you can make happen. Get inspired. Be proactive and be optimistic. We are.

You will find links to articles which tackle robotic customer service, compensation structures, job descriptions and conventional roles, traditional corporate departments, organizational charts, the way we use brainstorming, Stephen Covey’s Circle of Influence, and even the Marine Corps! There is one which urges us to reinvent our attitude about the sharing of knowledge, another which cheers on customer evangelists, and one which challenges the limits of our imagination. We are invited to shatter resistance and reinvent ourselves even when it seems impossible.

Let’s begin. Near the beginning of our list, please welcome the two newest contributors to our HC Forums, Karen Wallace of The Clearing Space, and Greg Balanko-Dickson of Business Performance Coaching. However Top Billing today goes to someone celebrating his birthday…

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The Reinvention of Human Resources

If you check the ‘brochureware’ on my SLC website, you will see there is just one speaking topic listed for me with the word ‘Reinvention’ in it.

As much as we in business love to self-analyze and theorize, there is quite a bit we do right thanks to the very nature of free enterprise. We are subject to the market’s responsiveness to our business efforts where ultimately, the almighty customer rules.

However, while there is a wealth of intelligence, logic, and good intention in the operational processes we already claim to use, actual practice lags behind; we continually write about the flaws because we aren’t that great at doing our right things continually and consistently. We talk about them and document them rhetorically in mission statements, but those seemingly visionary documents are rendered meaningless when we fail to execute.

comes into play when the reasons we don’t execute well reveal root causes riddled with red flags: Ignoring our sacred cows may actually be wise. Yet if there’s a good reason we don’t do something, we shouldn’t stop at just ignoring it. Instead, let’s pay attention, dig deep, and get real about turning old thinking upside down and looking for a far better way. Let’s reinvent.

My current favorite for reinvention? Human Resources, and I couldn’t let our Ho‘ohana Community May Reinvention Forum skip by me this year without bringing my speaking topic here to Talking Story too.

First, I must say I always find that those who work in HR are good people who had initially entered Human Resources as their field of choice with a sincere desire to be the employee’s advocate, no matter what that position that person may hold —including managers. Therefore, I never wish to vilify them, just challenge them to the greatness they had once aspired to.  In their fervent wishes to be a service department they’ve unfortunately become doormats, far too complacent about asserting their ideas and assuming their responsibility for leadership.

Doormats. Think that’s harsh? Well, let’s take a look at a few of the reasons why I feel that HR is so ripe for reinvention.

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Reinvented Work: So many possibilities.

A few blocks from the White House, Chris Bailey and I sat at a Caribou Coffee for three hours this past Monday afternoon talking about soulful, joyful work.

At one point, Chris whips a book out of his backpack to show me, called Joy at Work, A Revolutionary Approach to Fun on the Job by Dennis W. Bakke, formerly the CEO of The AES Corporation (Applied Energy Services). Chris was sure I’d love reading it, saying that Bakke and I seemed to be very much in sync in the way we looked at how work, and our workplaces, can be reinvented into much more joyful and purposeful places.

Much later that evening, finding I had some extra time on my hands, I took a walk to a Borders bookstore we’d walked by earlier, and bought a copy of the book for myself, figuring it was a good way to commemorate my time in Washington DC with Chris. In the morning I had a 12-hour travel schedule looming large, and I also knew the book would help the long plane ride pass more quickly.

Well, it was a terrific recommendation Chris, for I absolutely devoured the book, finishing its final pages mere minutes before landing. The woman sitting next to me turned out to be a retired grade school teacher, and she kept watching me, smiling, as I flagged and annotated the book the way I normally do when I have something I am not just reading, but studying intently.

She said, “You really should scan that book and send a few shots to the author, for what you’ve just done amazes me. I bet he’d think it a terrific compliment. I wish my students had loved reading their books that much.”

A book review will follow in greater detail, and Chris has one posted on his Bailey WorkPlay already if you’re anxious. For now, with possible job reinventions so much on the brain, I have to share one passage in particular with you. I could barely sit still in my seat when I first read it.

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Ho‘ohana Community connections in Washington D.C.

Aloha kaua e,

Just back from Washington D.C. and a wonderful four days in our nation’s Capitol. I had accompanied my daughter to her best friend’s college graduation from George Washington University: Imagine a Sunday with over 4,000 graduates, their family and friends easily numbering six or eight times more, all on the National Mall of the Smithsonian under a cloudless sky listening to a commencement address by President George Bush Sr. and former First Lady Barbara Bush. Who’d have thought this Hawaii girl would go all the way to Washington D.C. for such an unusually shared sunburn”

The whole thing was pretty impressive. Followed up by visits to the Smithsonian museums – love, love, love the newest National Museum of the American Indian – pretty terrific way to spend a Sunday.

This was my second time to Washington D.C. and both visits have been magical memory makers. The first time was, well, my first time, flush with all the historical and cultural enchantment the city serves up so warmly: I can’t imagine any visitor not being dazzled by it all. We had stayed in Georgetown that visit, playing tourist all over town and loving every moment of it.

This time the graduation was the catalyst for the trip, and the celebrations surrounding it filled the weekend wonderfully. I was very proud of Kara, and what she had accomplished there. Added bonuus: her family sure knows how to throw a great party! Washington D.C. is certainly home to some terrific restaurants, and I’ll be adding to my morning run to work it off.

However that wasn’t all”

In the days before and after the graduation weekend events, I was able to meet four different people in our Ho‘ohana Community for the first time in person; Jane Horike of Hilo (her daughter also graduated from GWU), Stacy Brice, Phil Gerbyshak, and Christopher Bailey. Like Stacy says, there was definitely magic!

Aloha connections are the very best kind, aren’t they?

…You give an unconditional love to another human being within the pure joy of having them in your life.
…You are immeasurably grateful for the richness they’ve added to your spirit and sense of well-being, and being with them is the most made-to-be-right thing possible, exactly what the most special friendships are supposed to be.
…You may be meeting personally for the first time, but there is already such history between you, that the caring and comfort is already deep, warm and certain.
…Ironically, after waiting for so long for the day to arrive, you are even okay with saying goodbye when your time is up, because you know it’s only been another beginning, and not an ending at all.

And to think it all started with this thing we call blogging.

It continues with community, and with aloha.
Jane, Stacy, Phil, and Chris, mahalo nui loa. Your hugs will be with me for a very, very long time, your aloha forever.

Hey Steve – there will be a next time!