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I Want to Start a Movement: Wake Up and Think Out Loud

I went to high school in the era when prayer in school was deemed unacceptable. Instead, the homeroom teacher had a book of inspirational sayings that he flipped open each morning. It was a big book, but didn’t open randomly so I am able to remember many times in those three years the same proverb. To this day I can still recite this one:

He who knows not, and knows not that he knows not, is a fool; shun him

He who knows not, and knows that he knows not, is a child; teach him

He who knows, and knows not that he knows, is asleep; wake him

He who knows, and knows that he knows, is wise; follow him.

Attributed to Riddhi Patel, an Arab writer

After reading Turn the Ship Around by L. David Marquet, I have concluded that most of us ‘know’ and don’t realize it, so we best fit into the category of needing to ‘wake up.’ The writer of the above proverb doesn’t mean for us to wake up in the sense of sleep, but from the context of thinking through things, pondering situations, and applying our creative abilities to problems in order to discover better approaches to solving them. In organizations that embrace total quality methods, the people who work to improve the work are those who do the work. They are ‘awake,’ they know the outcome of what is needed and are in the best position to consider how to look at choices, learn new techniques, and ask the right questions.

‘Waking up’ also means asking for another set of eyes, another perspective. It doesn’t mean handing off the problem to someone else or expecting someone else to handle it. I often wonder what would happen if we let our curiosity run wild in conversation and kicked around some ideas without reaching conclusions. What might we learn? How might we appreciate the knowledge and special skills that we, and those around us, are willing to offer?

While I am just thinking out loud, what would it take to create the kind of environment for this peaceful, non-judgmental approach to daily challenges to become the norm? Here are some questions for you to consider:

· What is the outcome of your work?

· What process or daily task would you really like to improve?

· How do you think about that task?

· If you could change only one thing this year at work, what would it be?

What would happen, if you went to your boss and said, “I am thinking out loud and would really like to see if we can do___________in a new and better way.”

To the bosses, supervisors, and managers out there, if any of your staff come to you with an idea here are some thinking out loud responses which show the person you care.

· Thank you for bringing that up.

· It bothers me, too.

· I am not sure we can start another project this week, but lets schedule another meeting (date needed).

· Let’s get some additional data on that. What do you think you can do to define this challenge clearly?

· Let’s get some others included and plan to see what how we can start to think and act differently.

Let’s ‘wake up’ the talent at KenCrest and create an even better place to work and make a difference. How will you start?



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Marian Baldini

Marian Baldini

Ms. Baldini is the CEO of KenCrest, a human services agency that provides services to children and the intellectually and developmentally disabled community.