The rowers cower, glued to the side of the rowboat.  The possessed wind shrieks.  Rocks crash on to the sand showering the crew with grains and surf.  They are now shivering.  Our lad is hoping to survive.

The crew gets close to each other for warmth.  They are frozen and not able to move…the wind and rain subside. The Tsunami that looked like it was happening never did.  The rowers are now on still wet yet firm sand.  Sun peeks through the dark clouds.

Our hero haltingly stands up.  He hesitantly takes a step.  The hand painted sign hanging slightly crooked on the palm tree says, “Welcome to the land of opening up!” 

  • I am facilitating the Service team …. this is a group that serves hundreds of customers and oversees the daily delivery of mats and uniforms. These deliveries are done by at least 20 masked and gowned route service reps.  We got into what they were appreciative of given the challenges.  I was surprised that it came down to acknowledging the owner and CEO of the company.  There is deep appreciation for their jobs in the face of the unemployment that their family members and neighbors are dealing with.  The team  appreciated processes that were designed to keep them healthy and Covid free.  The amount of PPE that they have access to and could use reinforced that they will be ok.  Clearly this group had experienced coming through a difficult time and that they were emerging into something new.  For this team it was clear that they are part of a company who was doing what it takes to be successful and last during the challenges.
  • Then massive protests arrived with some looting and riots. Racism  an underlying condition for us all and the country emerged on steroids.   What a broad range of responses have been occurring with leaders and executives I have been interacting with.  On the West Side, one company saw the next door street corner store looted and burned.  The next day the CEO led a charge with a cohort of employees to lend a hand to their neighbor and help clean up.

    The urban executive leaders talked about having to avoid the protests as they negotiated their way home.  Trucks and snowplows blocked their exits.  They shared Accounts of seeing looting as they went home and fears for their children who were protesting.

    Suburbanite team leaders talked about civil unrest that they had never seen or experienced .Those from Merrillville and Valparaiso talked about their shopkeepers brandishing shotguns to keep the looters out.  They were sort of proud that that was happening.  It left me in an eerie and surreal place. Then the country folks shared that around them there was not a lot regarding protests and unrest going on.  For the most part dormant.  One protest for one day at best in the town.

  • Regarding the political protests and Black Lives Matter movement, it has been silent in my meetings. Participants have said that they do not want to get political as a justification for not talking about it.  As an issue, diversity and the like topics have not come up.   My hunch is that these topics are overwhelmed by our discomfort in discussing and replaced by the raging fires of staying healthy and remaining economically viable and weathering the recession.

    I did have one executive approach me and say, “I read that book you recommended, White Fragility by Robin DiAngelo”.  “How did you like it”, I queried?  “Part of it matched my own anger”, he responded, “and part of it made me pissy.  Clearly there is institutionalized racism”, he admitted – a small victory.  I did not ask him what actions he would now be taking around dismantling institutionalized racism.  A lost opportunity.

  • I continually see that what organizations are dealing with at our planning sessions reveal the underlying weaknesses that confront them as an organization. An example of this: I, like you, am on a plethora of Zoom calls.  When most participants are on video and you can see their faces and they can see yours it makes a real difference in the quality of the call.

    At a recent planning session only one other person attending was on video.  Everyone else was on audio.  I asked about this and these department heads said they did not have cameras on their desktops.  I suspect that many of them have tablets and laptops with cameras.  However, no cameras on desktops justified everything.

    This division is having a real issue with on time delivery and productivity.  We also dealt with, at the session, the issues with engineering throughput and the inability of their aging engineering workforce to use software and 3d modeling to improve productivity.   We also had to confront the myriad of issues that this company needs to solve to easily work at home….  Then these leaders model not being on video during a zoom huddle……Oooyyyyyy it all makes my head hurt!

  • I took my first business trip since mid-March. This is going to be my first face to face with a beloved leadership team. No Zoom involved.  Thrilling and different.  I was apprehensive on how to travel and be safe.  I am driving to where my meeting was.  Not up to flying yet – I do not think the airlines have it figured out.   I packed food and drink in my new cooler so I would not have to buy on the road.  I had a basket full of masks, wipes, and gloves and off I go.

    I had done research on staying at hotels and it looked like Hilton was on top of it. We had called ahead to the Hampton to see if I could get a room that had not been used in the last three days.  “No way”, they said “we have been very busy”…. that is surprising and unexpected.  Then when I arrived, they assured me I was in a room that had not been used for a week.

    I climbed up to the third floor…no elevator used here.  Many of the rooms on the closed hall door had this small new blue sticker on it that said Hilton Fresh.  My room did not.  I called to the front desk.  She knew nothing about it.

    Wearing a mask and social distancing in rural Indiana is relaxed.  While this company has been rigorous regarding Covid protocol around deliveries, they were relaxed internally.  Not a lot of cases in the county or town.  At the meeting we were barely social distanced in an enclosed windowless room, no masks; I was uncomfortable……

    In the countryside I have seen this before.  Masks with strangers and then not with each other.  Strange in that we are getting this virus by breathing the same air with people we are hanging out with.  I challenged the CEO on this.  He risks his leadership team infecting each other from this relaxed mask and distancing orientation.  There is also a risk to any elderly or people with underlying conditions that the leaders live with.  The CEO got it and acted around reintroducing their protocol.

    Easy return drive.  Back into my cocoon.  Social distancing from my grandchildren for two weeks and I will get another Corvid test…. swab on….

    Those are my adventures in the land of opening.    I would love to hear yours.

    Keep causing and creating!