Thursday, May 22, 2008

“Creating a Desired Future” workshop: A satisfying experience

Hala, Raja and I facilitated a 2.5 day workshop titled “Creating a desired future” in the first week of May. The objective of the workshop was to enable mid-career assessment and action planning. It was a long weekend and school holiday season. With all these odds stacked against it, we had 10 enthusiastic delegates eager to explore their vision, mental blocks, strengths & action planning to achieve their desired future. Moreover, when you have representatives from areas as diverse as Film direction, HR, retail operations, insurance, IT you could not have asked for more. As Hala says, “When vision is powerful, it finds its own ways to put things together”

It has been nearly six months since we three started discussing this idea. Primary trigger came from our observation that most people go through an intense phase of introspection somewhere during their career. This was based on our personal experience as well as our interactions with our friends / colleagues. This observation was further supported by seminal work done by MIT Professor Edgar Schein on career dynamics. According to Prof. Schein, Although it is not clear whether this is a crisis or even a stage, there is mounting evidence that most people go though some kind of reassessment of themselves when they are well into their careers, asking themselves questions about their initial choices (“Have I entered the right career?”), about their levels of attainment (“Have I accomplished all I hoped to accomplish?” or “What have I accomplished and was it worth the sacrifices?”), and about their futures (“Should I continue or make a change?” or “What do I want to do with the rest of my life, and how does work fit into it?”). And we asked, “Can we assist people in this phase in a structured way?”

As each of us started to explore into different areas we began to see synergies. We realized that we can combine work done by Peter Senge (“Personal Mastery” from "Fifth Discipline"), Robert Fritz (“Path of least resistance”), Otto Scharmer (“Theory U”), Edgar Schein (“Career Dynamics”), and Marcus Buckingham (“Now, discover your strengths”). The challenge was to see how the gap between “current reality (CR)” and “desired future (DF)” can be bridged through an action plan that is anchored in one’s strengths. Raja and Hala have seen many visioning exercises in their consulting career where people find this gap between CR and DF far too intimidating.
As Ludi Goganovic, my friend who grew up in Germany and later worked in the US, observes, “In India, we have a lot more people doing a job for various reasons other than they being passionate about it.” Imagine the kind of place this will be if instead of say, 1% people following their passion, 5% start doing it. That is the grand vision.

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