We have been encountering some tough yet powerful conversations of late - which is just the way we like it! They range from implementing a company-wide diversity approach, designing a coaching program, initiating collaboration for system-wide textile recycling and thinking through how to shift customer’s perspectives for the benefit of the wider community.
Whilst very different conversations there was something similar in each. They started from an intention to use standard business practice e.g. frameworks, policies, quotas and metrics, to achieve each outcome. Whist potentially helpful in some way, shape or form this was not the right conversation, at least initially. What became very clear is that in order to achieve each intention you must first start with the individual.
Let us explain a little more……
Occasionally at the airport we browse the magazine rack a pick a few random ones to read on the plane (this is a very useful habit given that you normally read the same papers, blogs and watch TV shows which reinforce the way you think)
One of the magazines we picked up today, amongst a selection of mostly celebrity gossip or high end fashion (very revealing!), was Rhythms - Australia’s Roots Music Magazine. Flicking through we came across an interview with Ian Brennan an American producer/author who travels to remote places in the world to find new bands and artists who have never been heard before. It turns out he produced one of our favourite albums Tinariwen’s Tassili album, a Sarahan Tuareg band.
Now check out this exert from his interview where he talks about accepting a Grammy Award on behalf of the band:
“This award means a lot to them (Tinariwen) because it means they are being heard. The entire album was recorded outdoors in the biggest desert in the world. They began their career over 30 years above making free tapes for their friends, and playing on broken homemade instruments….Music unites us and music saves lives. When we listen to each other, we know there’s the potential to understand each other. When we understand one another there’s the potential for empathy. And where empathy exists, hate cannot continue, and there’s a chance to rise above it”
He also goes onto make a simple point about non-English speaking bands:
“….if people think its too hard to understand lyrics in other languages, they should realise it’s a small mental change, an adjustment of attitude. And we should also remember that it’s an adjustment that the whole rest of the world makes everyday to our English.”
Whilst listening to the rest of his recordings (go check it out - http://ianbrennan.com) it made us reflect on our recent conversations. It is a powerful example of taking time to seek out other people’s worlds and perspectives, and how something so simple can create change. The specific point that hate cannot continue when empathy exists is significant given the world is getting smaller and things are getting a little tense.
At Hatched we believe this understanding can be cultivated if businesses start simply with the notion that their role in “developing people” is simply to help them be good humans. This can be achieved through setting the right rhythms where individuals can grow, connect with each other, and share perspectives - especially on topics not directly related to work. This is mature leadership that is soft, yet strong and transformational. This could simply be creating new rituals allowing some space for this to happen e.g. taking time once a month to learn about and from each other, or potentially more challengingly - to engage leaders in role modelling this behaviour by being more vulnerable and human so people can understand and connect to them. Those few companies who have got this right, have achieved extraordinary results, just take a look at Bellroy.
We believe for true change to happen and to tackle issues like diversity it starts with investing in human goodness. Borrowing the words of Ian Brennan, “it’s a small mental change, an adjustment of attitude.
Would love to hear your perspective…..get in touch