Years ago I recall my Tea teacher explaining to me that it takes 8 lbs of tea (8 pounds of the powdered green tea used in the tea ceremony) to make a proper cup of tea. Doing the math on the basis of one tea ceremony per week for 5 people it would mean that it would take 5 years to produce a good cup of tea. To anyone unfamiliar with the tea ceremony, I know what you're thinking.
For students of the Tea Ceremony, you might say a five year horizon is simply too short; one really needs to invest 10 years of their time to be an accomplished student of the Tea Ceremony. The students of the ceremony also understand that the bowl of tea is but the product of a process involving study, reflection, action, reflection, more action and more study to create the best possible experience for one's guests. In other words, preparing a cup of tea becomes as much a life lesson about one's self as it is about making a cup of tea.
In Outliers, Malcolm Gladwell describes the pre-requisite 10,000 hours of time behind greatness. Based on a 40 hour work week, 10,000 hours translates into roughly the same timeframe: 5 years. In addition to hard work, Gladwell goes on to describe the influence of culture, family and opportunity.
In both examples, it is the amount of time and an unwavering commitment to a purpose that differentiates the achiever from the non-achiever.
If you are experiencing any doubt about switching up the character of your business to pursue a socially responsible identity, don't be deterred by the amount of time you will need to invest. Be prepared for a 10,000 hour commitment before you land comfortably at your destination. Think of it as a continuum of progressive realization.
And stretch, just because you can; my Fitness Instructor reminds me of this every day! In the course of your transition, why not engage your clients and customers as well as your employees in the journey? I know you would be surprised by the real appetite for social change that drives their support. Social change agents attract a large and loyal following because they want you to succeed. By infusing the transition process with the support of your clients and customers, imagine the meaning of the process to all stakeholders! Great meaning will help you to build a sustainable strategy.
Some days it will feel like you're walking a tightrope, but don't despair! This will give you the opportunity to keep your balanced perspective in check.
What are some of the challenges you could face by engaging your clients in your make-over? Could the challenges outweigh the benefits? Let us know! Jump on our soapbox; there is one below just for you!
photo credit: Peter Dixie, 2009 via Flickr