The Results of our Lesson Plan
To review the exercise suggestion:
“Rewrite these five lessons into manageMEANT lessons. What can these very foundational lessons in a garden, teach us about culture-building with the human beings we are raising, and growing? Concentrate on MĀLAMA as your value-driver.”
Here’s what I came up with.
Lesson 1: “Gardening success is all about the soil, preparing a nutrient-rich mix that will drain and re-wet well. Composting is a HUGE part of the mix; there are no chemical fertilizers in the rainforest.”
~Honor Your Survivors
Lesson 1: Fertile Soil = Best Foundation.
The values of ALOHA and HO‘OHANA are our foundation, both for Managing with Aloha and within my own company, Say Leadership Coaching (SLC). Therefore, to honor the people who are my survivors, I need to remind myself about the importance of those two values — to them. I know what they mean to me, to our core philosophy, and to the value alignment of my company, but how are they meaningful, relevant, practical, useful, and inspirational to my survivors as the unique individuals they are?
So I made a list of names (a list I would use for the entire exercise), and answered that question for each person on the list. If I had any doubts, or needed to update my own answers, I did the best possible thing I could do — I asked them.
Here is a good post to review in our archives, if this question on meaning is one you would like to further explore for yourself: ‘IMI OLA: To seek life and strengthen your faith.
Lesson 2: “After the soil, it’s all about climate – which includes water, wind resistance, and keeping pests at bay.”
~ Honor Your Survivors
Lesson 2: Climate as conducive to Culture.
The ‘climate’ question I translated this lesson to was, How is culture at its healthiest for this individual?
As a quick review, this is how we have defined culture:
CULTURE is simply a group of people who share common values, and operate within those values.
Culture is learned. Culture represents a series of agreements based on value alignment, and it results from honoring those agreements.
Therefore, the climate of a healthy workplace culture, is about shared values, i.e. that intersection where a person’s personal values will intersect with the organizational values of our workplace:
At SLC, we have 5 core values we operate with: Aloha, Ho‘ohana, Hō‘imi, Alaka‘i, and ‘Ike loa. [ Note: You can read more about the Healthy Workplace Compass we use at RosaSay.com: Values in Healthy Work. Hō‘imi is not listed with our 19 Values of Aloha, but a very close relative: It is related to the Palena ‘ole specifics of ‘IMI OLA: Here’s the tag link for the articles on Hō‘imi here on MWA Central.]
I’d already reviewed ALOHA and HO‘OHANA with Lesson 1, so Lesson 2 was about the other three for me: I used the same list of names, and thought specifically about how Hō‘imi, ALAKA‘I, and ‘IKE LOA could deal with each person’s ‘watering and wind resistance’ and ‘keep any pests at bay’ — especially if a cultural agreement must be made or revisited. In other words, it became a HO‘OMAU question about their persistence, self-discipline, tenacity and resilience.
It was rather fun, to go with those metaphors and identify specific challenges… I have killed several plants by over-watering my garden… and I bet you can think of which ‘pests’ to keep away from your team! Then the next step was dealing with them effectively — how could I, as their manager, be smart about it, and support them in dealing with their obstacles and challenges? HO‘OMAU was my why, but so was my desire for value alignment, so I restricted myself to Hō‘imi, ALAKA‘I, and ‘IKE LOA as sources for my possible answers.
Lesson 3: “After soil and climate, you boost your success with companion planting and diversity – Just 1 plant per variety can produce more than enough for our small family. So take time to plan well, and give plants enough room of their own to stretch in, while remembering how important their companions are.”
~ Honor Your Survivors
Lesson 3: Companion Planting = Partnering.
This lesson in the exercise pointed directly to relationship and partnering for me. With a few of my survivors I concentrated on the relationship between the two of us, and thought about how I could strengthen it. With others I focused on a relationship they had with someone else, a relationship that was critical to their HO‘OHANA; it may have been someone else on our team, or it may have been one of our clients.
It felt good to know that I was focused on ETHOS here, and those three choices that are so central to “the characteristic spirit of [our] culture,” values, relationships, and intentional work: Ethos: Be true to your Values.
Lesson 4: “No sense wasting time and energy (water/soil expense etc.) on a plant you aren’t going to eat, or don’t really care about, just to see if you can grow it – make a different choice.”
~ Honor Your Survivors
Lesson 4: Energy = Our Greatest Asset.
Ah! Our all-important sources of ENERGY, with the value of ALAKA‘I as our lever, as applies to both management and leadership. This was my reminder that human energy is the most important resource we have in a healthy workplace culture:
To cut to the chase with this, would you rather work with someone who’s in a great mood, or with someone who’s not? What is that energy within a good mood all about, and what keeps it flowing?
To manage with Aloha (managing), we channel our existing energies in good ways; to lead with Aloha (leading), we create new sources of energy, especially in regard to a sense of hope. For each person on my list, what were those at-the-ready energy sources — what were their live wires, and hot currents? Those answers went into my managemeant journal next.
Lesson 5: “Composting is extremely satisfying in terms of the circle of life: Nothing goes to waste. Even with 2 tumblers and small-chop rushing, I can’t produce it fast enough for all the places I’d like to use it.”
~Honor Your Survivors
Lesson 5: Compost = Nutrition/Fuel:
I found this last lesson to be very useful, in separating the energy of the previous lesson, from a person’s needs for nutrition and fuel, and I kept going back and forth between Lessons 4 and 5, pushing myself to see the difference and get this right.
Energy became the result of something else for each individual person — What were their personal sources of nutrition and/or fuel? What keeps them going? What recharges them? and What’s the spirit-spiller that keeps them self-motivated? The value of ‘IKE LOA was very helpful to me here, as was PALENA ‘OLE [Key 9] and what we have learned about a person’s four-fold capacity: Physical, Emotional, Intellectual, and Spiritual.
I especially loved the analogy of compost as a reminder that no past learning and no experiences are ever wasted; all of our lessons-learned stay with us, and get incorporated into all the future HO‘OHANA building we will do. So Lesson 5 brought this exercise full circle for me, to my desire to help each person on my list with their HO‘OHANA. Sometimes, the best thing a manager can do for someone else, is help them see connections they are much too close to, to see for themselves.
The entire exercise was exploratory, and helpful in the way that an analogy can tickle your creativity, getting you to look at what you do — in this case, managing others — in a different way.
The most important part of it though, is still to come.
Following up: Now what?
What I came up with, concerning my partners in my SLC ‘Ohana in Business, is just too good to keep to myself. In honoring my survivors — our initial goal — I want to share my compliments and say thank you (MAHALO) for the wonderful things I have newly associated with them in this exercise, and second, I want to offer my support in ways that they will suggest as most helpful to them (MĀLAMA).
As their manager I feel newly equipped, however I want to enlist them in my follow-up. So I’m taking my cue from coaching I’ve shared with you before: Do with, not for.
They all read this blog, and they’ll know what I’ve done, so my next step is quite simple: I’m setting an appointment with each one next week to talk story about it. We’ll proceed with our next-stepping from there together, Kākou.