By Jamey Lutz—
Several months ago, I had the opportunity to hear an excellent keynote address at an Atlanta-based management symposium. Jeff Nischwitz is the founder of the Nischwitz Group, a consulting and coaching company focused on leadership development and helping businesses nurture high-performing teams. In reviewing his speaking bio prior to his talk, I noticed that Nischwitz referred to himself as a “snow globe shaker,” a job title that was completely foreign to me. Of course, I could not wait to learn more.
It turns out that over the past several years, Nischwitz has become quite the snow globe aficionado, procuring them from most everywhere his travels take him. He also makes sure to have a favorite globe on stage with him for each of his speaking engagements, which was the case on this particular day.
Holding a particularly ornate globe showcasing a tiny, bustling town in some faraway land, Nischwitz proceeded to do what any of us would do. He shook the globe, causing exquisite “snowflakes” to blanket every centimeter of the now wintery scene. The audience (me included) oohed and aahed while the snow transported us to a beautiful place bursting with excitement and boundless possibilities. But within a matter of seconds, the wonderland reverted to its normal state—still quite charming but lacking the earlier anticipation sparked by Nischwitz’s initial globe shake.
Nischwitz went on to explain that the magic of the snow globe was akin to the cultural dynamic found in many of the organizations he had worked with in the past. A scenario where well-intentioned senior leadership develop a campaign to “shake things up” within the company, to disrupt the status quo and design a culture that puts their people first and fuels a collective passion for excellence. Mission and vision statements are crafted, core values are dusted off, employee engagement committees are formed, and laminated cards are distributed highlighting cultural mandates to be followed going forward.
Likewise, company celebrations are held, and employees are supplied with numerous promotional items commemorating the new culture tagline. And everything goes great for a while until organizational momentum begins to wane and the proverbial dust begins to settle, just like the snowflakes ultimately settled in the snow globe illustration.
Over time, the never-ending demands to meet the numbers, the daily whirlwind blowing team members in different strategic directions, and the competitive pressures causing dissension among the ranks can often lead companies to not only revert to their original state but at times erode organizational morale to a new low. Before you know it, disappointment and even a touch of cynicism begin to creep in after such a promising launch.
Don’t settle for positioning your company to become less than it was meant to be. Don’t settle for leading a good company instead of an exceptional one. Don’t settle for failing to affect your customer’s lives in a significant way. And don’t look back someday and wish you had demanded more of yourself and your team.
Never settle. Burn the boats.