Not the sort of involuntary story creation when we’re in a REM state.
Ambitions, aspirations hell, yes even moonshots.
The lack of some corporate dreaming is a sad and sorry state of affairs.
But we’ve got to appease the investors/shareholders/returns.
Yes, you do. But do you think any outrageously successful ventures were ever that way because they started — and continued — as numbers on a spreadsheet?
They were a napkin sketch. A model, drawn out on a plane journey. A research study and a big, obvious need. Yes, even a PowerPoint deck with a Maya Angelou meme at the end of it.
People, leaders mainly, don’t dream enough in the corporate world. They fuss over a KPI report or drop a consulting firm’s white paper on the board table and say ‘what are we going to do about this?’
That’s not dreaming of something outrageously exciting. Something so exciting that the people in the company suddenly come alive with the mere possibility of hitting that audacious, imaginative, challenging brief.
What we’re all — and I mean all — in need of in these times and in a stark, harsh future to come with economic shockwaves still to come — is energy. I wrote a book about it, I believe it is the most neglected aspect of humanity in work and is in short supply. Homeschooling, and working from home is one, exhausting debilitating shifts in health and social care is another.
Now I’m not saying that in your ICU if the leader stops everyone and says…
‘I have a dream’, that might not cut it in a crisis situation.
However, a seriously engaging town hall which recognises where we are, shows how much people are truly appreciated and a dream-like statement of intent and aspiration of a way through this, with inclusive, innovative and caring ways of togetherness, is still a dream but a realistic and inspiring one all the same.
Storytelling, it is. Fiction or some trite recital of the cleaner at NASA it doesn’t have to be.
I’m really tired lately. As I know you probably are. We thought we had challenges in 2019 and then 2020 came. And I look around at what we all did. And I’m staggered. Humbled. Inspired. Amazed. And I know 2021 is harder.
And I spoke to Ali. Who with 4 children and a wife who’s been laid off, finding it hard to balance their home budgets. Who is holding all our client care initiatives together with his team. Who all have their own trials and tribulations. I spoke to 15 customers this week, who all said they’re amazed and love how we’re still looking after than despite the challenges we have.
And I heard from Jo. Who said how much she values her work and colleagues more who held things together whilst her Mum was ill with coronavirus and she had to care for her Dad.
And I was speaking to Jay in finance. Who used to get people criticizing his insistence on form filling and that since we scrapped that and used the app to scan expenses. Now they all love his advice and help in getting their home working expenses claims.
And Cliff, our security guard. Who still turns up every day to keep our office secure; and he’s on his own. He’s told me how much he’s enjoying reading now. He’s actually turning that into a study programme on behavioural science. He misses everyone but lately, some of the team have been having little video coffees with Cliff since he learned how to access the video calling option on Slack. He’s been in every day since lockdown in March 2020. He now cycles to work since HR told him of the cycle scheme and he’s lost 11lbs and feels better than ever he said.
So these are just some of the stories of our everyday heroes.
But I want to tell you about a dream that the board and I had. Not a strategic plan — we actually had an imaginative — ‘what if’ session and this came through.
We want to …..<insert a linked to core business but adjacent dream venture> and we want you all to be in on it, shape it, make it come to life, be real and do good.
Marcia from Corporate Governance is leading and wants you to know she’s not going to kill any ideas like you all believed she used to. We are setting up a series of ways you can shape, share and be involved.
We thought it was about time we talked about our dreams so you can share yours.
Now. This is quasi-fictional. Some of the people stories here are real, I’ve been told them by contacts.
But I would love you to reflect now how you feel.
As I write this, I don’t even work at Fictional Inc in this partly made-up incident. But I’d be happy if I did. To hear my — previously anonymous CEO — tell me about her and the board’s dream? I am interested.
I would know it’s perhaps something that would be hard, difficult even and maybe won’t come to fruition. But all of a sudden I’m energised, inspired and all the things I consider petty are gone if we can devote some time to this dream venture.
It doesn’t even have to be some idyllic eco-warrior, community or charitable venture. It could be a new product line, service proposition or whatever but calling it a dream? I’m energised.
I’m NOT energised by numbers.
I’m not energised by your KPIs.
I’m not even energised by your bonus scheme (rewarding those jerks who trample all over the admin team to get them).
I’m not energised by your boring corporate reports.
I’m not energised by your lack of ambition and imagination. I don’t need us to go to Mars but I need something to get excited about even if that is a new innovation scheme to kill off that crap staff suggestion inbox rubbish we’ve had until now.
I AM energised because you’ve sensed and you’ve listened. You’re inviting me to hear something new and participate in something exciting, fresh, stimulating and worthwhile.
So yes, I will do that report on recent attrition and our trouble in hiring to certain roles, knowing that will feed into this new venture somehow.
When we’re not sparked, we gradually experience something called friction loss. I’ve mentioned this before but to remind us all: It’s the state of minor loss when you’re not paying attention to things that are small steps forward, up or onwards. The opposite of accumulated marginal gains.
So therefore to avoid this not just stuck state, but gradually, and worse still unknowingly, reducing and losing, we need sparks, energising and yes, dreams will do that.
And yes, Dr King Jnr had a dream. So as last time on this platform, I’ll leave you with his words.
Dreams spark the soul. With a heart full of soul and grace, induced by a dream you can believe in, we can see ourselves energised towards something that brings us to life. And you won’t find that in your KPIs or spreadsheet cells.