Lou Piniella, former Chicago Cubs general manager, was about to start his final baseball game before he retired. It was basically a meaningless game to the Cubs since they were well out of any hope for post-season play – and they lost this game by 11 runs – but it sure wasn’t meaningless to Lou Pinella. I imagined he was reflecting on many things, especially the many relationships he’d formed during his playing and managing career, and what the game of baseball truly meant to him.

In my own career, I’ve learned that the vast majority of successful business people are great relationship builders. This insight is far from unique, but I do believe that many “systems” at work – supply chain, workflow, technology, etc. – have become very complex and cumbersome. What we’ve lost is those personal relationships… with peers and customers, but also with our own connection to the actual business. While technology has certainly enabled a great deal of progress, relationship building and seeing the connections and business results that relationships can enable have become a lost art in many places.

I believe that people need to feel connected and relevant in their work and to each other. We need this not only to thrive as people but for our organizations’ business results to thrive in the short -and long- term. I’m privileged to see many of our clients discover those meaningful connections to their business and with their peers. It could be a front-line housekeeper at a luxury New York hotel who’s just discovered the importance of her role by understanding that no guest gets checked in if rooms aren’t cleaned and clean sheets aren’t put on a bed. It could be an employee at the headquarters of a national supermarket chain who finally – after 30 years on the job – understands his important role in executing his company’s strategy.

I’m not advocating we all hold hands at work, shed some tears, and break out into a Kumbaya embrace. I would, though, ask you to consider how we can all make more meaningful connections with others to better enable many of the processes we do have in the workplace, since human beings have the pressures and responsibilities to execute them.

How can we improve our customers’ experience, our organizations’ business results, and our own personal satisfaction through making meaningful relationships and connections?

January 14, 2011


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