Let's Go To The Oasis
Stories that are rich in texture and possibilities are the ones that excite us. The ones that tell not just of an adventure, but of the whole journey, with inner and outer landscapes drawn for us. We get to identify with the characters and they present us with new possibilities for resolving the conflicts we each face. Are we telling the stories that define for us the path to whom we might become together? Of who we need to be, given the world in which we live? What are the lessons we are teaching each other?
I imagine that some of the questions you are wrestling with here are created by a false assumption that it’s possible to separate technical achievement from, what you call, “fluff.” Yet every technical result is achieved via a complex web of interdependencies and interactions. Every result was achieved by a process. Can we be sure that the achievements we recognize are coherent with how we need to be working together, as well as what work we need to be doing? Can we tell a story that is rich in texture, that encompasses a definition of what success around here needs to mean?
What Does Outstanding
One organization I work with has a construction function responsible for complex building projects that serve the organization. The function had historically been rife with cost overruns and missed deadlines. A new manager was dispatched. In a short time, he and his team achieved exceptional success on the key metrics, and their outstanding performance led to new stories about performance that really mattered.
After awhile, it became clear that this manager’s methods were brutal, leaving bad relationships with business units (his customers) and contractors. The metrics were met: crippled relationships, reduced capacity and lack of learning were the price. People told dark stories and wondered, “Was this outstanding performance?”
The test for “outstanding” performance, in any endeavor in your organization, is how congruent the experience is with who you believe you need to be as an organization, in the context in which you operate.
As you explore these questions, you’ll begin to recognize performance that is the “outstanding” expression of becoming who and what you need to become as an organization.
Most of us want to love our organizations. We want them to live up to our greatest desires for ourselves and each other. In this time of turbulence in our environment, we need to see our aspirations for our organization brought to life in the stories we tell. We need to recognize who we are and who we might become. Our recognition programs can create the new story we need to tell each other to keep us on the path.