Monday, July 28, 2008

A Humbling Experience

Over the last couple of months I have had the distinct honor to be hired as a consultant for Alpha House Publishers to begin to assist them in marketing their books using the tools available online. This grand opportunity has stretched my experience beyond measure and has allowed me to have but a glimpse into a different side of business outside the four walls of a classroom

Probably one of the most unique experiences thus far was like a scene out Peter Senge's book, The Fifth Discpline. The Executive Editor of this Publishing House led a collaborative brainstorming session with her authors to begin to design and construct a Mission Statement.

It was quite humbling to be able to sit with them at the table and witness this organizations values being laid out and discussed among all stake holders. I was asked to sit in and I took notes during this session and about 5 minutes into the conversation I had one of those magical moments of clarity where I knew I was experiencing something very special and very unique.

The Authors and the Executive Editor were willing to open themselves up briefly to good ole fashion dialogue, and they reached a point where each member sitting at the table, contributed a portion of their values and ideals that will ultimately help this Publishing House develop their identity.

Here are but a few quotes that came out during this "brainstorming" session:
  • caring about the process as well as the product
  • we are truly writing from an international perspective...world is interconnected and the issues cannot be divided by borders.
  • we have a shared responsibility as a human race and we express this in a practical way through our books.
  • we are allowed to make valued judgements
  • we are writing with integrity
  • I want to be aware of who you are as a whole person
  • words are powerful tools for change at many levels...sometimes at less obvious levels.
  • connection between the page and someone in ways you would have never predicted or thought about.
  • This Publishing House is a tool in the service of other people.

This was the first of many discussions I am sure, but right from the start I was able to witness an exchange of ideas among employees and employer, which to me is simply fantastic. I believe that the Executive Editor understands the value of a learning organization with a "shared vision" and seems to have naturally begun to embed these values.

I leave you with a fitting quote from Peter Senge:

When you ask people about what it is like being part of a great team, what is most striking is the meaningfulness of the experience. People talk about being part of something larger than themselves, of being connected, of being generative. It becomes quite clear that, for many, their experiences as part
of truly great teams stand out as singular periods of life lived to the fullest. Some spend the rest of their lives looking for ways to recapture that spirit.

(Senge 1990: 13)

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