Personally, for me, the most interesting moment came on Monday after the event.
It was the lunch meeting where all our partners regathered and immersed ourselves in Kaizen. My expectation was that the meeting would highlight tactical refinement opportunities we could adopt going forward. Or that we would identify ways to make our program more impactful. And yes, while much of conversation was focused on tactics, I really saw something much greater unfolding.
Let me explain… Generally, I tend to be a very tactical thinker. Going into the meeting, we had the whiteboards setup to capture our learnings. We had neatly pre-classified the categories: student experience, logistics and operations, etc. What I completely failed to consider was the deeper purpose of these debrief sessions.
Yes, we had the white board full of notes on our oversights, poor assumptions, unforeseen accomplishments, etc. However, the biggest win that afternoon was the psychological dynamics that emerged. It was the very personal exchange amongst the 10 individuals from NASA Glenn, Cleveland Metropolitan School District, Greater Cleveland Career Consortium, and Ohio Aerospace Institute, who were sharing a meal, celebrating their joint effort, commending each other for their creativity, enjoying each other’s company, and most importantly, smiling.
It was a conversation and a space where people felt comfortable sharing where they personally had an oversight or miscalculation, individuals reflected on their mistakes and offered better alternatives. As the group spoke, ate, smiled, they were starting to feel comfortable being a bit more open and vulnerable.
And when one individual expressed his vulnerability, others stepped in and offered encouragement.
Just 5 months ago, these were individuals who didn’t know each other, who could have passed each other at a Cleveland Browns game as complete strangers – but now we had cemented a deeper bond.
We were experiencing a Total Kaizen of the Heart!
Unknowingly we have taken perhaps the most important first step and created our own Aerozone ‘System In Play.’ A system that now comprises of not transactional workers, rather supportive and committed colleagues. I can’t wait to keep this momentum going.