I feel that in our modern organizations some of our precise execution reflexes limit us in our ability to fulfill our dreams (isn’t it an ability exclusive to humans?) and this severely cuts off our ability to achieve our full potential. Many companies and organizations are, in my opinion, lacking inspiring projects that bring people together.
This morning, I remembered a discussion I had with Dominic, a former colleague, during our flight to the Agile conference a few years ago. A dream emerged from that conversation: “Create in Northern Quebec a super data and processing center to provide our government, other governments, NGOs, our businesses and other organizations state-of-the-art IT infrastructures providing them with an important capacity for innovation and agility. The benefits of such a project could be so grand economically as well as in terms of expertise development and potential of exportation. I would challenge the project team to execute this project with the lowest possible ecological footprint.”
This is a dream; it is probably unrealistic to a great extent. But isn’t it the very definition of a dream?
Jean, a friend I met through our mutual involvement in the Agile community, was also present at the Agile 2011 conference. Since I like to exchange ideas with Jean and, moreover, he worked for Hydro-Québec back then, I shared the dream with him. The exchange returned with a vengeance!
Jean finds the idea interesting. However, he indicates that Hydro-Québec, which was once a great innovator (we used to call them the Bâtisseurs d’eau (water builders)), had become a major operator. He said the culture of innovation was in fact greatly lost.
Don’t misunderstand me, I’m not trying to diminish the importance of operational excellence in order to insist on a dream and live in an imaginary and disembodied world. I invite us to integrate both the dream and pragmatism. Isn’t it a fundamental aspect of the leader’s role to create conversation spaces where people get together, express their dreams, express their work motivations, listen closely to one another and choose the actions to be taken? In other words, conversations in which individuality nurtures the company’s sense of community and, in turn, this collective sense nurtures back the individuals.
Certain of you will probably have questions such as these: “What kind of organizational culture promotes the emergence and realization of dreams? What are the benefits of taking the time to dream together? How are dreams related to an organization’s performance? Where do we start? Etc.
I, of course, do not have ready-made answers to these complex questions. I personally like to encourage the creation of symbols and stories that can convey the dreams, distinct identity, and values that bind a group. Moreover, the use of storytelling is increasingly recognized for its effectiveness in organizational environments. Since organizations and their people are continuously evolving, I think it is important to provide frequent platforms for this type of exchange. In the case of Pyxis, for example, we have named our logo Edgy, and I like getting people to talk about themselves via fictitious accessories that Edgy could wear or situations that he could live.
To return to the exchange with Jean, at some point, he said: “Too often at Hydro, you have not even finished speaking of an idea or project that you are required to produce a plan.” And he added: “I don’t have plans yet, I have dreams.”
Thank you very much Jean for these words that I find very wise and still inspiring today. I do not have a specific plan . . . I strongly identify myself with the water builders of my country . . . I want to honour them the best that I can . . . I want to humbly contribute to a better world for Marilie, Claudie, and future generations . . . I have a dream to share with you very soon!