Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Sustainable Performance Enhancement - The value of values

In the last post we explored the different sources of energy we draw from as professionals - and as people. We considered the importance of energy from physical, emotional, mental sources right through to the underlying spirit of performance and those intangible but incredibly important aspects of life including values, commitment to a common purpose, community service & human connection.

Today we'll explore these underlying factors and specifically values. So what relevance does this have for business and performance in general?? Well, we will consider values in the context of values driven performance specifically with respect to sustainable performance.

I attended my first ever Ice hockey match last week. The wellness clinic where I have my office (Fluid Health, Port Melbourne) sponsors the Melbourne Ice so I went along as a guest. It was great to meet some of the guys and see how they play as its an exciting action packed sport. The Ice are an organization that are really achieving great things and their story needs to be told. They won the national championship last year and have consistently been in the top three for much of the past decade. Even more interesting is that the Ice is not even a profit making organization. Many of its competitors are and have paid employees, but the Ice is a not-for-profit community organization. As I was chatting to Andy Lamrock, the club president I asked what their secret to success was.

Did he talk about how much money they have and how big their kitty is? Did he talk about their new star signing? Not at all! What he talked about was how the Ice was a bit like a family with a purpose. A group with collective energy where everybody pulled together. He explained how the Ice mission statement doesnt even talk about beating other teams, or winning trophies but focuses more on ideas like providing elite ice hockey to the people of Melbourne, being a club of choice, fostering talent at all levels & conduct the club in a responsible, sustainable and transparent manner

If you go to the website page (click here) you will see how it proudly announces the importance of combining excellence, commitment and team work with a family spirit, marked by hospitality, honesty and integrity and the importance of developing each member of the Melbourne Ice family. Now, it was great to read this on the website AFTER I spoke to Andy, because I am sure that many groups and organizations 'display' similar ideals. But it was the examples that Andy used to explain HOW it actually happens in practice that was the real proof in the pudding for me. We will explore this more in later blogs, but for the mean time, best of luck to the Ice for the upcoming finals series starting next week. They are currently sitting first in the league so are in a strong position,

This takes me back to another chat I was very fotunate to be able to have with a really interesting guy, Mr Paul Peters while kitesurfing in Fiji a couple of weeks ago. As our little fishing boat sped along (sadly still with more fisherman and fisherwomen than actual fish in the boat!) Paul explained how he has found a way to combine his strengths in finance with his values of making a positive difference to the global community. Growing up in Canada with a father who was a church minister Paul really understood the power and importance of social values and working in a way that benefits the community. He later trained in finance and went to work in a multinational financial institution but then went on to set up a company that specialises in micro-finance and entrepreneurial support for people in some of the poorest countries of the world. It was fascinating listening to him as he explained how they combined financing and supporting a needy group an incredibly values driven and ethical way with an unwavering and rock-solid commitment to commercial business ideals. And how the most entrepreneurial and resourceful people he had ever met were people living in the slums of India and South East Asia. But most importantly it was the passion in his voice and clear sense of purpose and love about what he does that struck me. I could tell that he has found a way to combine his strengths with his values that will allow him to keep doing what he does for many years to come.

Finally Maverick! On the way through the airport in Fiji I picked up a book to read on the plane - and what a book! Maverick, By Ricardo Semler - The success story behind the world's most unusual workplace. Put simply Ricardo, explains how over the last 30yrs, with a commitment to creating a fulfilling and prosperous workplace that is profitable and an enjoyable place to work, his team have turned the brizilian marine equipment manufacturing business Semco from a $4million company with unhappy, unmotivated staff into a $35 million dollar organisation that is the #1 place to work in Brazil that is #1 or #2 in all industries it works in. How have they done it?

With a commitment to people and totally committed conscious choice to create a fulfilling and democratic workplace they have gone against all convention again and again so that now workers make decisions previously made by bosses, managerial staff set their own salaries and bonuses, everybody has access to the company books and shop-floor workers set their own productivity targets and schedules. This story highlights how many of the organizations we work in are really dictatorships and begs the question how democratic is our society if we spend 10hrs per day 5 days per week working within a dictatorship? We all know that dictatorships are outdated and inefficient nation building models because they dont provide the space for everyday people to flourish and use their inherent why do so many organizational dictatorships exist?

If we don't trust the people around us, especially the ones working with us, how can we possibly expect them to trust themselves?

If entrepreneurial drive and skill can be found in abundance in the slums of India and Indonesia and in the factories of Brazil, then surely it is in abundance all around us here in Melbourne, Victoria?

How much untapped talent and energy is within us and around us that we could access and use if we just start to focus on it and put some effort into evolving and leading change in the direction we want to go?


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