“A picture is worth a thousand words.” How often have you heard that hoary old classic?
Well, I experienced it first hand this past week. Only for me it was more like a Saul-on-the-road-to-Damascus experience.
I am sure you must have had similar experiences. More than just the physical equivalent of a cartoon light-bulb suddenly appearing above your head, it is the revelation of something that you know in the very depths of your being; something so innate that you feel you have always known it. Yet somehow you have never voiced it. And, while the whole experience is incredibly uplifting – it also leaves you feeling rather numb with a sense of your own inadequacy.
Certainly that was how I felt. It was so simple that I just couldn’t understand why I hadn’t seen it before. My first thought was inevitably “Of course!” However, that was closely followed by a second, more self-recriminatory thought, “Damn it, why didn’t I see that before? Why didn’t I see that for myself? Why has it taken me so long?”
Of course there is some consolation in the hope that I may not be the only one, so let me hasten to share the inspiration and reveal the picture that caused me to feel like this.
The diagram comes from the website of Schuitema Human Excellence Group. I found the site after hearing about Etsko Schuitema from a relative and following up. Needless to say I am very grateful that I did, for this is the perfect picture of how to create employee engagement. But what excites me most is the centre – the part where the three circles overlap. While this could so easily have been depicted simply as employee engagement, Schuitema redefines this by depicting it as “unconditional benevolent intent” which he clarifies as “being here to give.” He sees this as the ultimate of self-expression and yet, because it is “unconditional” he implies that it is unselfish – i.e. it is not done for personal gain but is natural and voluntary. I love that because it is what I call self-fulfilment – the point where the individual starts to fulfil his/her potential. Thus you could say this depicts the ultimate employee empowerment.
And that is why I find it so invigorating. It also depicts my vision.
My whole approach of valuing people and accounting for them as human assets, offering universal, non-equity, employee ownership and so maximising employee engagement, is intended to be the ultimate empowerment mechanism. It is a catalyst to embed personal excellence, leadership excellence and team excellence into the organisational DNA. You could possibly argue that it removes the unconditional element that Schuitema describes, although I would dispute that. After all, isn’t self-fulfilment the same as giving life your all? At the end of the day we only have one life and it is incumbent on us all to optimise that life; and anything that helps us to do so has to be counted as a blessing.
Of course, it is even more of a blessing when it creates a win-win for the organisation as a whole. And the really exciting thing and the real encouragement here is that Schuitema’s client list and articles prove that this is not just a good theory but a practical approach to business transformation. You don’t just have to take my word for it.