Once upon a time
Once upon a
time, a clever group of female entrepreneurs started their businesses – each of
them in their very unique way with their minds full of knowledge, their hearts
filled with hot burning enthusiasm and their eyes directed to their goals,
unswervingly going their way with the power of support they got through one
another. For each one of them who needed help, some advice or feared losing
track, two others stepped in and coached her until she was on her way again.
They called themselves “The Powerwomen” and that was who they were.
another group of women suddenly appeared at the horizon. That different and
similiar at the same time. The “Strong Females” too started their exceptional
businesses to make this world a better place, to enrichen lame market supply
with their powerful insights, experience and intuition and on the way they
supported each other as much as they could.
two exhausting years of existence, the meetings of “The Powerwomen” started to
crumble apart. The once new task of entrepreneurship had started to feel like
everyday life, their energy was fading and the first existence-threatening
challenges had been taken brilliantly. Fewer and fewer women came to their
meetings and one day they asked themselves the overall-question: “Why?” It
meant everything. What is our matter of existence? What is our purpose? How can
we reanimate our team spirit? What do we want to experience together? Once they
began asking themselves these questions, they couldn’t stop their ideas popping
out of their mouths. They wanted to do little workshops at the beginning of
their meetings, discuss current and delicate business-matters, collaborate, get
to know the work-places of the others and last but not least: Have a good time
these were the exact words the “Strong Females” used to define for their
meetings and goals only a few blocks away, without any knowledge of what was
spoken at the table of “The Powerwomen”.
parties made big posters called “Vision Maps” with their ideas on it and hung
them up at their locations. One sunny day, a “Strong Female” passed by the map
of the “Powerwomen” and in a way of naïve and positive thinking she thought she
might have found likeminded people and maybe future friends. She hardly could
wait for the next meeting to introduce her so distinct idea of connecting these
two groups and form one. Why not join forces? By doing so, the network would
have grown a bit. Of course they would have to get to know each other in the
first place, but then a bigger network meant more power, ideas and support too!
The strong value of personal connectivity could have stayed through chatting
times at the events and moreover – the group would not have been THAT big – it
could even save the two groups of being a dying breed through more members in
one place! What benefit would there be to organize two events with the exact
same topics instead of one? It seemed ridiculous not giving it a try.
The “Strong Females” were curious, but reserved when they first heard about that idea. In the end they decided to give it a try and opened their doors for the “Powerwomen” – but none of them came. Instead something remarkable happened – they didn’t show up at any event anymore and remained silent where they once wouldn’t stop telling their stories to one another. The network suddenly felt barren like a desert with only a hay bale passing by once in a while when some woman pose a question nobody would answer. The “Strong Female” who had had the idea of connecting the two groups noticed this and tried to arrange a second try. Everything would be better once they got to know each other personally, right? Suddenly it began to rumble and the “Powerwomen” started to speak up about everything they didn’t like anymore to her as well as to one another. Some of them even cut off all the leashes and left the group. It somehow felt like the “Powerwomen” were in danger of falling apart.
This is a true story. The naïve and positive woman – it was me. In my mind I couldn’t think of anything more logical and sense-making as bringing these two groups together. Through this whole process, I learned a lot about corporate culture I want to share here with you.
#1 Whenever change is wanted, management has to
Without the support and authorization of the top of the company – nothing will change. In this case I wasn’t the manager, we were equal, Therefore it only showed up faster: As not everybody was involved in the decision of getting to know the other group, the members partly were not committed.
#2 Change has to be felt as an inner urge out
of the people that are affected.
power have to be created in the hearts of each and every person involved. Some
will remain in resistance – this is good, each company needs people who
preserve and defend what once was achieved. But it can never be the majority.
#3 Involve everybody.
It is not
enough to write protocols of meetings only a few attended and provide this
information. They will not feel the words written down, especially if it
contains something important like upcoming changes in corporate structures.
Resistance is guaranteed in this case. If a lot of them don’t seem interested
in being involved, rather ask yourself: Why is this the case?
#4 Be passionate.
You really have to want what you say you want. Half-hearted actions will be punished immediately. Be prepared to spend your time and/or money in advance without knowing if it is going to work out. Just because you feel it is worth a try.
Of course these experiences differ from environment to environment and can’t be transferred on a 1:1 base from a professional network by choice to a corporate culture. But in fact, I think it makes the forces working visible more rapid and severe.
consultant: Be sure to scrutinize these issues in advance, before starting the
change-process. Let management be aware they are a role-model and have to
commit. Tell them that they really have to want this change process and that it
needs time to create the inner urge of this change in their team, it will
probably consume most of the time. Use methods that involve everybody and include
those that want to take part in the process and need their time to be part of
it. And whatever you do: Act full-heartedly.
In my case
the process is still in progress. The “Powerwomen” have got the chance to take
this energy of resistance and transform it into their re-birth. I so much wish
them strength and luck on their way of doing it. Or maybe they decide that
their time is over and that the purpose of the network was to strengthen each
other at the beginning of their way into entrepreneurship. Both ways are good
ones. However, it should be continued or closed clearly. For unfinished
projects tend to dissipate energy without our knowledge.