This is the first in our series of weekly blogs on the Annual Gathering of Games, the world's largest conference on open-book management. This year marks the 26th anniversary of the event, which attracts business leaders from companies of all sizes, in all industries, from all over the world, who recognize that they can transform their businesses by valuing and elevating their greatest resource: their employees.
These articles are written by Great Game employees to highlight some of the highest rated sessions at the 2017 conference. We hope to give you a flavor of the content-rich sessions that can be found at The Gathering of Games. Click the link below to hear the entire audio recording from this breakout session.
“Everybody in our companies is capable of brilliance. Our job is to help get it out of them. Hope is one of the best ways.”
-Ari Weinzweig, co-founder of Zingerman’s
As part of the Great Game Team, I spend a lot of time helping to put ON the annual conference on open-book management, rather than getting to participate IN it. We have so many amazing speakers and inspiring practitioners that I sometimes miss just being an attendee.
2017 was no exception. I missed one of our favorite people, Ari Weinzwieg, conducting an hour-long session on Hope, inspired by his book The Power of Beliefs in Business. Today I was able to listen to the recording of his session, and wanted to share what I learned.
“As plants grow in the direction of the sun”, Ari says, “people grow in the direction of hope.” Whoa.
So, where does hope come from? Hopefulness is environmental. We learn it from our families, friends and surroundings. Social scientists and psychologists have discovered that hopelessness needs to be learned. Further, there is research that shows people with hope perform and cope better in life, even beyond their talent and natural ability. How can we put hope to work?
Ari encourages us to do 6 things to foster hope in our organizations; and if we do these 6 things everyday…hope will grow. He organizes them in a Six-Pointed Hope Star:
- Help people see a better future
Ari is famous for visioning – painting a picture of the future in such detail that everyone in the organization can see it; then, help to make that vision a reality. Zingerman’s helps people see a better future by sitting with employees one-on-one.
- Help them see how they might get there
Teach people the practical steps to make things happen. Avoid ‘magical thinking’; Having a gym membership does not get you in shape. Also, people with high hope create multiple paths to get there. So, if something knocks them down, they get back up and get going. (How many of you do Contingency Planning?)
- Show people how much they matter
Honor who your people are. Know their name. (I’ve seen Jack Stack walk through a factory full of hundreds of employees and stop someone on a machine and ask how their mother is doing. How does he do that?) It’s about humanization; show them they matter as people. This is not tied to their work.
- Help them see how much their work matters
Show them they are not just laying stone, they are building a cathedral. Everything matters, but in the hubbub of daily work, we often forget to recognize how it fits into the big picture.
- Help them see how small steps are key to success
At GGOB, we say small wins add up to big wins. Ari points out that success is built on small steps; again, big magical things are not what we are shooting for. Put away 4 bucks a day at 20, and you’ll be a millionaire at retirement.
- Show them how they fit into a larger whole
Create a sense of belonging to something bigger than yourself. There’s a natural tension between being part of a group and being an individual. Ari says, “I want both”. He’s looking for a caring community full of strong, hopeful individuals.
He goes on to challenge us, saying there’s no reason we cannot do these every single day. Keep track! Scoreboard it!
As a pretty simple person, one of my favorite ways to learn is to know how I might screw things up before I even get started. You know, a list of things NOT to do. Ari did not disappoint.
Things not to do
- Don’t ignore people
- Don’t dump your anxiety on everyone around you
- Don’t dismiss people’s ideas out of hand
- Don’t have mood swings-people will withdraw
- Don’t be cynical or sarcastic – you’ll diminish hope
Other things to consider
- Teach hope – your people will do better
- Actively provide hope by recognizing the little things
- Ask questions that cultivate hope
- What’s the best complement you‘ve gotten lately
- What makes you feel like you matter?
- Watch for moments of hope
I loved listening to this session. Ari is one of the best in the OBM Community. I was really struck by one thing he said. “This conference is a massive beacon of hope - OBM is all about hope.”
What’s not to love about a Community that’s all about hope?