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Even the brightest and most knowledgeable person is still limited by what they know and perceive.

Too often in organizations of all kinds, a few people are the ones who generate ideas and make decisions about the work being done by those on the “front lines.” This is an unfortunate mistake because they are operating on limited information. Charts and graphs and statistics may define performance, but they aren’t performance. People are the ones who perform and the closer they are to the front line the more in touch with the true work they will be. Yet this goldmine of information and ideas often goes untapped, because management doesn’t take the time to ask and the front line worker doesn’t feel secure enough or valued enough to volunteer their ideas. I believe there is a general lack of respect, where the lower you are in the organization the less respected you are. The fact that all people are of value and have contributions to make is missed.

The “Open Space”

I just attended an “Open Space” session where 150 field leaders were in a room with top management. A facilitator, then opened the floor and the participants had the freedom to raise any topic they felt was important to better the opportunities for the field. It was a fantastic event. It couldn’t have happened unless  the ownership cared deeply about the people it serves. They knew the value of each of the people in that room and how their input individually could strengthen everyone.

Each person who raised a topic, then conducted a workshop session on the topic and a ny of the participants could choose to attend whichever of the seven ongoing workshops there were at a time. In all 2o workshops were conducted. It was one of the most inspiring and creative events I have ever attended. The ideas were terrific, many important action items were developed, but most important the collective energy and connection of the field leaders soared throughout the time together.

The mutual respect that was evident and the spirit of unity was fantastic. There is no doubt that this group of people will reach new heights in the coming year.  It is a simple thing to do, which further underscores the main point, give people a chance to contribute, value their input, and you will benefit everyone in a way few individuals alone could have conceived.

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