July 4th – The Big Idea?

This past anniversary of our country’s declaration impresses you to think that the date is still a big deal.  Let’s see … 1776 … that’s 238 years ago! The big idea, of course, by the founders, was an escape from tyranny, a move toward democracy through a representative government and equality of opportunity.

On July 5, my wife and I saw Dinesh DeSousa’s documentary America. The thesis was “what would  the world be like without her?” Here’s the interesting outtake for me, that rises above DeSousa’s left vs. right message and that is: freedom wins. That’s the big idea. Another take-away from the film that impressed was a 1 ½ minute segment of a talk by Bono of U2 at Georgetown University in 2012. He said this, “when it comes down to it, it’s about keeping faith with the idea of America … because America’s an idea isn’t it? That’s how we see you around the world – as one of the greatest ideas in human history.”

Aside from the stereotype of sometimes disparaged artists and performers, it’s a pleasant surprise when an accomplished artist speaks from the heart about his or her love for America. I think that’s important to note- that the leaders of an organization are able to personally relate to the citizens (employees) why the big idea is still important. It reinforces and enhances the “big reason” why people come to work each day knowing they are contributing to something other than Accounts Receivable.

In business we can take lessons from the celebration of historical milestones, founders’ ideals and a journey that reinforces those traditions. Your enterprise began with someone’s big idea. Here are ways to keep that flame burning.

  1. Celebrate milestones: plan events to honor company milestones … and anniversaries of the founding (principles) and significant historical achievements.
  2. Honor “patriots”: two angles here (1) create themes around initiatives that are significant the organization’s continued success and (2) make a big deal of your loyal (patriot) employees with public acknowledgment and public lobby monuments to loyalty.
  3. Paul Revere “watchdogs”: think of the colonists who waited for a signal of impending news to affect the right response; in your organization look for ways to “see” (listen) to news/suggestions from the shop floor.

Engagement is not something you produce, rather, it is something you attract by satisfying innate human desires. In these examples above, your willingness to invest in linking all work to a “big idea” gives everyone purpose, belonging and ownership … the triad of human inspiration.

That’s the big idea.

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