On a recent trip to Asia my wife and I joined a bus tour group in Vietnam. We were one of the first to get on the bus and, seeing no “Reserved” signs, simply chose seats, on the aisle, near the front of the bus. As people began to file on to the bus, and it began to fill, one of the tour guides came up, and in that painfully polite Asian way, asked us to move to other seats, less close to the front. When I pointed out that we had not known they were reserved he simply repeated the request. So, wanting to be good guests – we moved.
This happens to us, not often, but on a regular enough basis – in concerts, with what we thought was open seating, to various other types of public events. We are clearly entitled to be at the event, graciously welcomed but not always seated exactly where it was anticipated by us, or the host, we would be seated.
Years ago, Jim Collins and his partner Jerry Porras conducted a six year study at Stanford’s School of Business on what separated great organizations from merely good ones. Of, what I have counted as nine key elements necessary to the separation, the dominant element was centered on the role of a powerful culture.
Culture is many things. At 3 Gaps we’ve decided it is primarily the organic and structured intersection of values, beliefs and goals (the elements at the root of what we call the 3 Gaps). My personal values, goals and beliefs are not perfectly aligned with the company’s.
Sometimes the seat I believe I should take, based on what I value and/or prioritize and is most consistent with my goals and dreams is not the same seat as that the company has in mind. My ability, and the ability of my organization, to work through those differences while still keeping me engaged and my returning the favor by remaining engaged with the company is key to organizational success.
Perhaps if we gave a higher value to simply being on the bus than taking a particular seat we’d find organizational changes less of a threat or challenge. Perhaps if organizations took a little more time to hear individual’s out on their perspective on what they can or ought to contribute we’d ruffle a few less feathers.
At 3 Gaps we talk about regularly examining the gaps that grow around our values, beliefs and goals by not only understanding and planning for these key elements in a life centered on “inner peace” but regularly interrupting that “inner peace” to challenge why some changes are concerning. Is there a real threat here or might I need to tweak my view of what I believe, value and dream of? Change may be necessary – by one or both parties. Reflection is usually the best foundation for interaction.
Because, after all, an empty bus at destination is not much of an accomplishment. Nor is a bus with the wrong people on it going to be as effective when we blow a tire, find ourselves with a tired driver or discover, horror of horror…. No one brought SNACKS!!!!