...and let's away, to part the glories of this happy day

Wow.

Friday is my last day with Koné Consulting and while I’ve had over a month to prepare for the moment there’s a big part of me that still doesn’t believe it’s happening. A couple of months ago an old friend and colleague of mine whom I hadn’t spoken to in a long time invited me out to dinner to catch up on the work we’d both been doing over the interceding years. Slowly, but surely, the dinner turned into a job offer—one that I ultimately decided I couldn’t refuse. Next week I’ll begin work as the Chief Operating Officer of a Montessori academy in Chicago’s West Loop.

This may sound like a bit of a hard right turn, but I actually do have educational and professional experience in child development (from a previous life). That, coupled with the fact that my daughter will be able to attend school there, led to my decision.

I regret leaving so soon after starting—it’s been less than a year-and-a-half since I came onboard and I feel like there’s so much more I could accomplish, so much more I could learn. Nevertheless, I’m doing my best to remind myself that there’s plenty I’ve learned over the last 16 months.

  • All problems are people problems. There isn’t an issue an organization encounters that can’t be at least partially helped by getting a group of dedicated and thoughtful people into a room to try and solve it. Problem is, many organizations do not empower their frontline staff, who are the actual experts in how work gets done, to be true change agents. As I say to clients all the time, “no one shows up to work each morning saying to themselves ‘I can’t wait to waste my time today!’” No—people show up to work with a desire to provide value to the people they serve, and when we don’t invest in their development we are doing them a disservice.

  • All problems are systems problems. As stated above, people show up to work wanting to do a good job. But a bad process will trump an individual’s good intentions 99 times out of 100. We should not set up systems that require herculean efforts from individual workers just to get basic things done. Organizations that ensure that business processes take into account the people engaged in those processes everyday are going to be much more successful.

  • Understanding cannot be assumed. We practice 10x communication at Koné Consulting. That is, we take a guess at how often a message needs to be communicated for it to be internalized, and then we multiply that by 10. It ought to be obvious, but sending an all-staff e-mail at 4:00 p.m. on a Friday letting everyone know about a major change in process going into effect 9:00 a.m. Monday is not an effective communication strategy. And even if multiple messages have been sent to staff, or transmitted to supervisors, it cannot be assumed that everyone understands it. Frequent, personalized multi-media messages need to be offered to ensure everyone “gets” it.

The list goes on, but I don’t want to bore anyone. The bottom line is my time at Koné Consulting has helped me be a more conscientious and engaged organizational change agent—wisdom and expertise that I hope I may ably employ during the next chapter of my professional life. And so, I bid farewell to the incredible Koné Consulting team, with sincere hope that our paths cross once more. The elements be kind to thee and make thy spirits all of comfort! Fare thee well.

Dispatches from the Windy City: What could be better than #SummerTimeChi?

New York may have better public transportation. Los Angeles may have better year-round weather. Miami may have a better tan. But nothing beats Summertime in the city of Chicago.

It’s hard to believe I’ve called Chicago my home for over 15 years now. I’ve hosted lots of visitors during that time, and have provided many informal tours of the City of Big Shoulders—I have never had a dissatisfied customer during the Summer months.

Are the winters here treacherous? Yep! But it’s because of how trying those months are that Chicagoans are expert at taking full advantage of tolerable outside temperatures. If it’s above 65, spending time indoors becomes inappropriate.

Chicago has an extensive street festival calendar during the Summer. In addition to large, tent-pole events like Pitchfork Music Festival and Lollapalooza, most neighborhoods throughout the city host one (or more) local streetfests between June and September. By my count, there are 112 such events scheduled this year!

Most fests offer food and drinks, live music, and family-oriented activities for the kiddies to enjoy. Many also have specific themes. Already this year my family and I have visited the Taste of Little Village (where we ate lots of tacos), Do Division Fest (where our daughter rode a pony for the first time, just a few blocks from our home) and the Pilsen Food Truck Social (where we ate chorizo french fries, Jamaican meat patties, and some delicious elotes). Here are some other upcoming fests that sound intriguing to me:

  • Windy City Ribfest
  • Rocoe Village Burger Fest
  • Fiesta del Sol
  • Taste of Polonia

Not only do street fests help me achieve one of my most important life goals (eat a lot of food, always), but they ensure I stay connected to all the cultural riches the city has to offer.

At a recent retreat the Kone Consulting team made it part of our organizational purpose to experience joy during our work with clients. We are a fun-loving group that values time well-spent. We want our work to be meaningful, rewarding, and enjoyable. For all its warts (which are admittedly plenty), Summertime Chicago offers many opportunities for joy. Just as long as it’s not raining outside.