Playground Perspective: Resiliency at Home

The Floricane team has been spending a lot of time talking about resiliency lately. From all appearances, it is going to be one of our 2017 calling cards.

The Sarvay team has been spending a lot of time experiencing resiliency lately. We'd like it to be completely absent from our lives as we move through 2017.

Resiliency is defines as an ability "to recover quickly from misfortune; to return to original form after being bent, compressed, or stretched out of shape; to recover quickly from disruptive change, or misfortune."

I've had plenty of time lately to think about the various ways the four members of our close family demonstrate resiliency, and our unique strengths that collectively go a long way toward helping the whole family cope with change.

Take, as an example, Jack. Now, two-year-olds are designed to be human putty. They run into walls, and bounce. They hit the ground, and get back up. And they get sick, and usually get better.

Last week, Jack got sick. And he stayed sick. Getting better took time, medicine, an amazing pediatrician (Dr. Gayle Smith at Partners In Pediatrics, FYI.) and resiliency. On all of our parts. Our little guy, and his mom, spent the better part of a week in the hospital, confined to a single room with only his 1970s Fisher Price Little People (all 21 of them) to keep him company.

He rolled with it all -- the confinement, the bad food, the needles. He was the model patient. Seriously.

Nikole was the model mom, staying with our kid 24/7 through the most traumatic moments to the most mundane. She was patient, caring and connected with Jack the whole way. Her resiliency often comes in the form of grace and just simply being in the moment she is experiencing.

On the other hand, I need action. Which made me the perfect person to parent the eight-year-old during the experience, and to go get coffee, go get palatable food, go corral the doctors and ask them detailed questions. You give me opportunities for movement and motion, and I can take anything you throw at me.

Thea sort of splits the difference -- a bit of still water running deep combined with a need to visibly express her emotions. Say, with a "Welcome Home" shrine for Jack with flowers, banners, drawings and other icons.

As I experienced each of our responses to the health crisis in our home, I gradually moved from a place of judgment to appreciation. Staying with a crisis over time allows each person's approach to add value, and be more visible -- something that doesn't always happen in the day-to-day rush over more trivial dramas. Watching Jack, Nikole and Thea each add their own strength to our family's ability to move through disruptive change reminded me why we form families, communities, teams. Politics aside, we are all stronger together. All it takes is a challenge and the ability to rely on and appreciate others for who they are.

As for Jack, he's on the road to recovery. Which is exactly what you'd expect from a kid who eats sugar cookies (made by his sister who was unable to visit him in person) for lunch.

A Singularly Important Gift


Spending the better part of two days with a passionate group of volunteers is how we like to roll at Floricane. Our time early in November with the member representatives of Donate Life Virginia is a case in point.

The Donate Life Virginia team is comprised of representatives from major hospitals, transplant centers and other organizations committed to increasing public awareness about organ donation and supporting both donors and recipients. For an added dose of inspiration, the team includes organ donors and recipients and family members. The team left their retreat with a solid plan to educate and train a new generation of volunteers and health care professionals.

Letter from John (December 2016)

Twenty years ago, I started my first grown-up job at Luck Stone Corporation, which was then a small, family-owned quarry company headquartered in Goochland County. During one of my interviews, my soon-to-be boss asked me, "How do you know when communication has been effective?"

My answer: "You watch what people do. If people change their behaviors, the communication is effective."

One of the more useful forms of communication is feedback -- information received in response to something. Several weeks ago, the Floricane team received scads of feedback. The first round came from eight other CEOs of small business at a Chesterfield Chamber of Commerce/Virginia Council of CEOs event. The second came when we invited eight of our favorite clients to talk shop with us at our offices. Our team put our cards on the table, and our clients asked questions, provided perspective, and challenged our approach to the work.

It was a relentless discussion. It was oddly affirming.

It's bolstering when people have the capacity to be candid and open about difficult things. It is refreshing when what is shared is not a complete surprise -- our team feel as if we know where the gaps are. The CEOs and our clients helped push our thinking, and challenged us to hear ourselves more clearly.

We spend so much of our time helping our clients hear more clearly. Whether it's individual stakeholder feedback, or coaching, or a 360 assessment, or an organizational assessment, a big part of our job involves helping others see the invisible, listen to what has been previously unheard. As a team, it was interesting to live our own work for a few hours.

What I heard at the Chesterfield Chamber was a prelude to what I heard at our own client roundtable. At a certain moment in time, for a growing business to be successful, the owner has to make a change. By Floricane's calendar, that moment happens about every two years.

A few hours after we wrapped our Floricane client discussion, I got an email from one of the participants. It does a good job of summarizing one of my key takeaways:

Make sure to realize the solution is intelligence and people leverage, not more work for John. The real business tragedy will be if you allow yourself to fall back into the same patterns as before. The pull will be strong to go back to the same old relationship with your business - DON'T. Fixing the problem will be difficult but it will become an investment that you have to make in order to grow the organization that it seems you want to grow.

Will the communication and feedback be effective? Watch our behaviors as we start the new year.

As we turn a hard corner into what feels like an absolutely unpredictable 2017, the pull for all of us will be to go back to the same old relationships -- with ourselves, our jobs, our communities. DON'T. Identify what matters most. Fix the problems. Do the difficult work. Grow the life that you want to grow.

I'm looking forward to the year ahead with all of its uncertainty and opportunity. There is so much transformation waiting to happen. So, take a deep December breath, and prepare to create your own version of transformation. We'll see you in the new year.


Defining Regional Impact


There are times when even we are impressed, and maybe a little intimated, by regional star power -- like when you have regional county administrators, corporate executives, foundation heads and Richmond's new mayor-elect are gamely filling out Post-In Notes and sticking them to windows. (Many of you know the drill.)

We had an hour to help a group of 35 heavy hitters build some alignment around the key "wins" that would determine success for the Capital Region Collaborativein 2021. The Collaborative has sent the last seven years building cross-sector alignment around a set of regional priorities, and has helped initiate conversations, projects and activities to move those priorities forward. But at an organizational level, it turns out that success is also about getting, analyzing and acting on the right data; being creative about investments; and increasing public awareness that change is happening.


Exploring Resiliency and Strategy


Occasionally, people like to make us stand at the front of the room and talk about things we know! That happened last month when John and Lesley facilitated a workshop on "The 8 Questions To Ask Before Strategic Planning," and then spoke about resiliency to a few hundred members of the Virginia Society of Association Executives. The workshop included some great new case studies from projects we've done this year with the Orange County Public LibraryHousing Opportunities Made Equal, and the Virginia Society of Association Executives itself. Look for Lesley and Debra together at last in March as they speak to women leaders at Dominion VA Power.

Writing the Book on Alignment


It's not often that the leadership of the Library of Virginia gets to spend quality time (at the same time) with both its governing board and its foundation board. And pulling all three groups of leaders -- one hired, one appointed, one recruited -- together for a day of strategic discussion can be challenging. At a time when state budget cuts are once again hitting the Library (and other state agencies) hard, it is an important challenge to meet. Working as a large group, and in small cross-functional groups, the Library team strengthened its alignment and understanding around the capacity building role of boards -- before turning its attention to focused, deep dives into specific opportunities related to major technology needs, public awareness and outreach, and fundraising. It never ceases to energize and amaze us when we're in the room with large groups of people who are passionate about the cause they support.


Blowing Things Up with Gas


We're not sure you can create a better morning than one involving sausage biscuits, the launch of a new brand, 300 utility workers and 1,200 uninflated balloons. Except for the part when the 300 workers start to inflate the 1,200 balloons. That part is pretty amazing.

We were recently invited by our friends at The Hodges Partnership to facilitate a team building activity for Richmond's Department of Public Utilities. DPU was launching a new brand -- RVA Gas Works -- and wanted all of its employees to better understand how collaboration, communication, accountability, customer service and quality work made a difference to City of Richmond residents. It was a fast-paced morning, and we were only part of the entertainment -- the DPU Singers performed, and there was a fashion show with DPU employees showing off the new brand identity

Building an Oral Health Gameplan


The best part of planning to plan is when you start to move past planning and into action! That's how dozens of Virginia Peninsula organizations are feeling as the team from Smart Beginnings Virginia Peninsula moves closer to an action plan to tackle oral health awareness, access and care in Newport News and Hampton.


We've been facilitating conversations in the region for more than a year, and have identified a small handful of real opportunities to effect change -- especially when it comes to consistent dental care for children. Early in 2017, Smart Beginnings will deliver an action plan to DentaQuest Foundation -- and then get to work with community partners to make a difference on the ground.