Organizational Rainbows Cast no Shadows
Here is the thing; no one has ever seen someone else’s rainbow. Rainbows have no physical manifestation in that you can’t touch them, you can’t physically feel them. They cast no shadows and they have no reflection, they are ephemeral in the wispiest sense of the word. But don’t get me wrong, rainbows are wonderful, you do feel them in the joy and sense of wonder that they bring to your heart or the heart of a child standing next to you, perhaps seeing a rainbow for the first time.
A rainbow is created when a beam of light passes through water droplets, is diffracted and shines on the color receptors in your eye. Rainbows are a creation of the physical properties that exist between the light, the water, your eye and your brain. They exist only because you are there looking at them. If you were not there to look for them they would simply not be there. When two people look at a rainbow, even if they are standing side-by-side they are seeing different rainbows, different light beams, passing through different water droplets reflecting uniquely off of the color receptors in their eyes. Their respective rainbows may appear very similar but as each of us perceives a rainbow we are perceiving a unique image, an image that no one else perceives. Maybe that makes them even more special.
Organizations are constantly looking for their own rainbows or perhaps more accurately the mythical pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. They create all sorts of messaging to motivate employees to see the same rainbow that the leader at the top of the organization sees. But just as each person needs to see rainbows their own unique way, each employee needs to internalize organizational goals in their own fashion. I always find myself smiling a bit when a senior leader puts out the organizational goals, surrounds it with a bit of messaging and rationale, and then assumes that all employees are aboard with the “vision”. Employees can get on-board with the “vision” but just as each of us has a unique vision of our personal rainbows, each of us will have a unique vision of why we work to achieve the organization’s goals, no matter how similar we think we might be.
© 2012 by Jeffrey M. Saltzman. All rights reserved.