Saturday, April 21, 2012

Part 3 - Explosion, Reflection, Epiphany

After the focus groups had met, our friend Bob put together a document detailing the information he had gathered.  A few comments he made from that experience still resonate with me - one was that he was surprised the amount of energy that the focus groups had opened up.  I think Bob was actually a little overwhelmed and somewhat taken aback by the magnitude of the energies.  The other was Bob's insistent suggestion that we (the SAK Leadership) respond quickly to the SAK family.  As we were processing the wealth of information, I remember even getting several reminders from Bob with the final one being "Hey, it's been 11 days since I delivered that information to you - folks are eager for your thoughts."

Of Bob's many suggestions and encouragements for moving forward, the core thought was 'Tell them what you heard, then go big."

We scheduled a day to respond to the SAK family and let them know that we heard them and what we intended to do about it.

I gave a lot of back ground information regarding the history of SAK the company and our mission as much of that information we unknown to a number of our people.  I was actually surprised how few of our people knew what the SAK Mission Statement was.  I will include some further information on those subjects in subsequent posts.

The most looming issues / wants were: More transparency, better communication, more leading, less managing.  These issues are actually not uncommon to many businesses.  Letting everyone know all that is going on and why and how decisions are made is a mountainous task, but surely one that needs to be done.  I realized we were not hitting the mark on those fronts.  The other resounding energy was "change or be changed," as Bob put it.

One of the focus group participants put it this way: "We aren’t frustrated because we dislike SAK in any way. We are frustrated because we love SAK and want it to succeed. We don’t need to be placated somehow. We need to be empowered, encouraged, and unleashed."

Near the end of this session is when the EXPLOSION hit.  After going through the "what we heard" and "what we're going to do," there was a challenge from several voices for more.  Our response was not as "BIG" as several had hoped.

After an emotional outburst from yours truly in response - (I had thought what I was offering was indeed some great steps), I pushed that challenge forward with a specific "Let me sit with you, and you, and you and you (the several individuals who were identified in Bob's summary as the most trusted and admired at SAK), to discuss how we can "Share the Wheel."  I am (we are) ready to do that.

[Incidentally, from the information tallied and compiled in Bob's report, my name was not on the Most Trusted and Admired List - a real eye opener that was, and frankly, a pretty heavy gut slug]

It was clear that not only did I need to make some radical moves to include those individuals and energies into the moving forward of SAK - I also needed to really step up as a Leader at SAK - as the Artistic Director - and lead more than manage.  I had gotten buried in the day to day Management junk of SAK and was not offering vision and leadership on creative and artistic levels, as well as not empowering others as much as could be to contribute in those areas.  I need to be there.  I need to lead.  I need to listen.  I need to share the wheel.

SAK has always muddled through the challenge of Artistic and Management Directorship.  With our tight finances and shoestring budget, SAK could traditionally not afford to pay a Managing Director and an Artistic Director.  I served in both of those capacities for a salary less than either would command in the market.  Of course, as many artists and creative types know and have known - we do this because we have to.  We make it work.  We do what needs to be done.

But now it was clear this model could no longer serve SAK.  From this day forward, SAK would be very different.  I did not realize how different it would be at that exact moment.  I had my version of how it would be very different, but on subsequent reflection and self-realization - the truth is SAK was going to soon be very, very different indeed.

This post was supposed to go from Explosion, through Reflection and Epiphany, but holy cow, it's already too long for a single post.  Reflection and Epiphany will have to be the subject of the next post.