I spend much of my time working with organisations, their stakeholders and their communities on visions, strategies and problems. In a world where things appear to be getting busier and organisations are asked to do more with less, there is a tendency to focus more on the BIG stuff.
A local strategy, feeds into the regional strategy, informing the state strategy, which gets prioritised into a set of motherhood statements for the BIG stuff. Even the local strategies are becoming summary documents. I am beginning to wonder if by dealing with the BIG stuff we miss the small stuff and if that small stuff might actually be the key. Is there really any BIG stuff, that wasn’t once small? Its impossible to tackle the global rise in obesity levels, this is certainly big but unless you change how one person in one country living in one street, eats EVERY meal, the efforts are fruitless. For me I avoid thinking about the small stuff because it’s overwhelming to contemplate but am I avoiding the thing that makes a real difference. At the moment, I am working on a strategic plan for a state-wide service of 800 staff. The easy way to do this would be to get staff to talk to management, management to talk to executive and then do a day’s workshop with executive to develop the plan. The small stuff approach has meant that me and the general manager have been travelling to the various sites around the state talking to staff about the small stuff. What we have learnt, what we have felt would rarely be understood or shared at the executive workshop. What is the small stuff…people and relationships. Organisations don’t change, people do. National behaviours don’t change, people do. The small stuff is the relationships and the clarity of communication and understanding, the small stuff is not the functional needs but the human connections that get formed and relied on to make something special happen. In truth, this is the BIG stuff. The hard thing about the small stuff is that there is not a single email, blog, letter, workshop that you can do to put a ‘check’ next to that box. Its an ongoing process of taking the time to connect, listen and understand…from there people can move mountains (the big stuff).