I was in mainland Europe last week visiting a site in Germany. On the face of it, travelling to mainland Europe should be a much easier proposition for me than traveling to the US. But by the end of the week I was shattered! I am not sure if that is due to a lack of jet lag or inverse jet lag!
When I am in the US, I am up each day by 4:00am and so have almost half a day before any meeting to connect home, catch up with email, prepare slides, and get to the fitness center. Mainland Europe is only one hour ahead of the UK and somehow I end up going to bed an hour later than normal and yet also have to get up an hour earlier the next morning. I then work all day and go straight out for an evening meal. Feels like no time to connect home, no time for email, no time to think about the day just gone let alone the day ahead and definitely no time for the fitness center.
So as I sat on the motorway on Friday afternoon, struggling through the holiday traffic to get home from the airport, I found myself thinking about my week. A couple of major and yet unsurprising themes came through. Relationships and science. Who would have guessed?
Germany was engaging, stimulating and very enjoyable. The weather was hot, the sun shone and it rained heavily. Despite my apparently shortened days, I was able to invest time with people, in opportunities, on projects and with sponsors. I met a site that has undergone much change over the past few months…I met a team with commitment and conviction….I met individuals who were present and passionate…individuals with purpose.
I spent time with leaders, with teams and with team members. Over lunch and dinner and breakfast…and yes over coffee! I felt my mood change during the week. Anything I had anxiety about as I arrived…I felt confident about as I left.
The team have invested heavily in relationships – with each other, with colleagues at our other locations, with our customers and with our external regulators. They have invested heavily to build mutual trust and confidence. Its sounds so obvious but a relationship built on trust and confidence is a strong relationship…but trust and confidence have to be built. They are not a given.
I was impressed how individuals within the team have invested to build trust and confidence with whomever they are working; I was even more impressed and pleased how much they all seemed to be enjoying and savouring those relationships. Giving and getting. Benefitting and helping.
Science is a much used word. Science is all about acquiring knowledge on a particular subject – knowledge that is derived by use of observation and experimentation to describe and to explain. As I listened this week it recognised this as the essence of what we do – and maybe of what we should do more of – in our partnerships and relationships and projects. We use experiments and observations to build knowledge…knowledge that allows us to describe and to explain.
Our partners absolutely value our ability and capability to carry out experiments – but they value most when we use our knowledge to advise and to explain what experiments to carry out…or to not carry out. They certainly value our ability to observe and to report what we see in our experiments – but they value most when we use our knowledge to advise and to explain what the experimental data mean…or don’t mean.
Relationships…trust and confidence. Science…description and explanation.