I was on the East Coast this week. Still bitterly cold, but at least it was sunny. I was well prepared with warm clothes, hats and gloves…but it never occurred to take sunglasses.
I was in the US for a big strategy meeting. As I arrived, I wasn’t quite sure whether it was a regular meeting to discuss a big strategy, or a big meeting to discuss a regular strategy. Either way I was anticipating a great day. Strategy sessions always engage me, not least since for there to be a strategy there also has to be the vision. The objective that has to be achieved.
I also knew that my ultimate test would be the ‘airport test’. Strategy day was a Friday – meaning that I would be sitting in Newark airport on a Friday evening and not getting home until Saturday morning. So the airport test is how do I feel waiting to board my plane…knowing that I was missing a Friday evening at home. Excited and engaged? Lonely and removed?
Well in the end it was all of the above. Excited and engaged about our big meeting – which is good. Lonely and removed because Friday evenings with my family are special – which is important. And a bit frustrating because I was being messed about again by the airline – which is bad.
One of the beauties of a day like Friday is that inevitably my network increases and improves. My network is a group people with similar interests to me and with whom I interact and connect in order to help each other. Sometimes that help is practical and other times it is more abstract, but it is always helpful.
And my network is essential to me. It increases because I have chance to meet different people. It improves because I get to work with people I already know but in much more depth and detail.
I realised this was much of my excitement on Friday at Newark. Working all day with new people was great value. I appreciated the insights I heard. The passion I felt. The expertise I saw. The humour I laughed at. And the team I was part of. Networks become much more – more real and more valuable as we invest in them. Contribute. Participate. And celebrate.
And engaging because we did good work. It was only the start. I enjoy any opportunity to influence strategy and to own implementation. Strategy is only of value if, and when, it is implemented. But it has to start somewhere. Although in truth our work did not start on Friday. Our piece of work started Friday but much had been done before then.
But engaged was how I felt. I avoided leaving with flip charts…but I did leave with actions and roles. But most of all I left with opportunity. I left with opportunity to influence strategy (and thereby objectives) and opportunity to be involved with implementation.
And most exciting was the realisation of the value this work would add to my network. The work in front of us will pull us together. This is true of most of what we do, but the chance to work with different people more so than I have done before is fascinating. The thought that we can add value together is motivating. The opportunity to learn from them is compelling.
I slept well on the flight back – despite the best efforts of the airline. But I did nothing about my engagement and excitement when I arrived home. Instead I addressed my loneliness and removal. Both of which were great to resolve.