When last in your career, did you 'have a dream?' When last did you feel the magic dust of inspiration spread across a room? Sometimes all it takes to energize a group and solve a difficult problem, is to copy a master.
I was recently asked to help a group involved in implementing a new performance management system, to identify what success would look like. They wanted to analyze how people would behave, and what they would be saying, if the new system was implemented successfully. I began thinking about the most inspiring visionaries in history - those who were able to articulate a vision in a way that 'changed the world.'
...I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.
I have a dream today! ...
Martin Luther King
I rediscovered Martin Luther Kings "I have a dream speech" and printed it out. I asked each group to write their own "I have a dream speech. In it they needed to show:
- What success would look like.
- What people would say.
- How people would behave.
- What they would see.
I challenged them to perform the speech - like Martin Luther King did.
The groups were quiet. I held my breath and waited. Suddenly the energy in the room changed. People started leaning forward in their chairs. The noise level increased. They began creating. They continued creating. I looked at my watch. It was time to move on. After three unsuccessful attempts to stop the activity, the groups finally were ready to present.
Magical moments sometimes just happen. As each group delivered their "I have a dream speech." - I felt the hairs on my arms rising, and tears forming in my eyes. I noticed the presenters voices quivering, and their hands shaking with emotion. And their words - were powerful and inspirational. For the first time in my entire career, I could see and feel the power of a performance management system that is implemented in a way that transforms a company, and energizes its people.
The groups were delighted by what they had created. By following in the footsteps of a master - that had not only answered the question about what success would look like, but they had inspired themselves. They left with "a clear vision, a dream, good energy, focus and commitment."
Later that evening, the leader of the group sent me a text on my mobile - two lines describing her dream as a leader. It was both powerful and inspiring.
I wonder - Imagine if whenever we did visioning, or any type of change management - what would happen if we followed in the footsteps of Martin Luther King - and began by creating a dream at every level in the organization. What if instead of cascading goals in an organization, we cascaded dreams? Would this result in magic dust being sprinkled on every team, and every individual in the organization?