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"Organizational Performance and Well-Being" https://t.co/4TRC86k8tb on @LinkedIn 26 Jun

Imagine you are a five hundred year old institution going through a battle over your core mission and values. You reach that last resort – irreconcilable differences. Separating is – well – complicated. The road to separation takes five years and a considerable investment of time, emotion and money. There are ups and there are downs but the final word from the courts declares; “You must vacate your home of more than 150 years.”

Within this context I was hired to help the organization through a process to find a new home.

Change is my forte. The leadership team of about 40 read my book The Millennium Matrix for context. The subtitle is Reclaiming the Past and Reframing the Future of the Church.

The two day retreat was set up for an evening to understand the forces of change and how this organization’s experience is part of a bigger picture.

I tailored my presentation, honed over the last seven years, for this audience. I have given the presentation to over 200 organizations and events that include three to four thousand people. I have had many people push back and react to some of the implications of change that I conclude.

Never, however, did I have the emotional reaction and dissent that I encountered that evening when I landed on one image that showed a simple piece of art.

The trigger – a sidewalk chalk portrait of the Madonna and Child.

I was unprepared for the response. That crack in my presentation was like a loose thread on a sweater. Once pulled it continued to unravel. It was clear I hit a raw nerve but as a consultant you never want to become THE ISSUE that prevents the group for focusing on themselves.

Two things saved me. We were at the end of the evening and I had time to pivot. Secondly, I openly acknowledged that I had missed the mark and would regroup that night.

At mindSHIFT we look for “the anxiety in the system.” This provides insight into the self-limiting constraints an organization is living with. Well…I hit the mother load of anxiety in this particular system. I reached out to some of my colleagues that evening who offered great perspective.

I also called home to my wife, Lisa, and shared my bruised experience. As we talked I realized the loss we were going through. We’re selling our house. It’s been the home our kids have grown up in. I’ve watched Lisa wrestle with the emotions of packing away memories and having to chose what goes in storage and what we take to our next house.

I was able to feel, to a small degree, the depth of loss that this organization was dealing with. They had fought a hard and painful battle to keep their home and their way of living out community. The image I showed and the context I created felt like another assault on their centuries old values.

There is a happy ending. The next day I opened with my conversation with Lisa. I found that even though I fully understood their tradition, the context of their transition and read the volumes of previous planning efforts I had not appreciated where they were emotionally. My time with them was more than a planning meeting and visioning session. It was about understanding them.

The technical elements of what I do are second nature. Understanding the true context of the client is where and when I see we make the biggest impact.

How would you have navigated that touchy situation?

What do you do when the client’s reaction is out of proportion to the material you’re showing?

Here is image that became the catalyst:

Madonna_Child_chalk.jpg

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