One of the projects I am most proud of in my life happened almost by accident. As the General Manager of a Recruitment Firm in Regional Australia we were working with clients through the first of this business generations skills shortage in the mining sector, about 15 years ago.
One particular mining services business had both ‘in town’ and site operations and were struggling to attract great talent to the in-town positions – because even though it paid the same salary and you could be home every night, people were so enamoured with the huge amounts of money being earnt by ‘going to the mines’ they weren’t even seeing the opportunity.
In a meeting to discuss yet another failed attraction strategy, I asked the Site CFO if they would be interested in something really left field? They were desperate and said yes. The Site CFO walked me out to my car and asked me what I had in mind, and my response was nothing yet, I just need to know if I create something you will at least listen.
The project which resulted was at the time revolutionary; to hire unskilled women who were not in the workforce, who’s children were now in school. To over employ by 30% so those women could take time off without pressure when their children were ill. To work the rostering so that every woman between rostering and leave accruals could have half the school holidays with their children. To pay them the same as the mine site conditions so they could say goodbye to Centrelink, and let their earnings shut up their communities who would remind them it was their job to stay home with the kids. We stripped the purely process driven tasks out of the Tradesman’s jobs, tested the manual dexterity of these women, and taught them those tasks.
The results were so powerful the project became part of how the organisation operated, it was rolled out to other sites and financially they became one of our largest clients in an 8 figure recruitment business.
But most importantly, this changed the lives of these women forever, giving these women opportunities they had never thought possible. And that is what I remember.
True, sustainable, impact which improves the life of another human.
The truth is impact is not something you create sitting in a vacuum. It exists at the collision of doing great work, lived experience, and collaboration.
It is in doing what it takes to do great work that we create the foundational strength necessary to really elevate what we do and to have the strength to navigate the hits and apparent impasse’s which appear.
Great work by its very nature means we have to delve into it, beyond thinking and learning, we have to build lived experience and evidenced strategies to continually deepen the strength of what we do. The surprise is it is through this lived experience that we are able to create strategic positioning congruent to who we are that is uniquely, unassailably ours.
And in a world obsessed with the word collaboration, few of us realise the true power in collaboration; that great collaboration is more than simply alignment of purpose and agreement to do something together. It is the combination of resources, of true commercial savvy which delivers longevity through being unapologetic in your belief that commercial viability is oxygen when it comes to creating sustainable impact.
This game, creating sustainable impact, belongs to those of who understand this is not about the next game, but as Simon Sinek calls it, the infinite game. Where we are willing to build deep expertise through great work knowing that work still matters – even if not right in this split second. It is in our ability to step back, to survey, and to choose the next best move. It is in knowing our voice, our messaging doesn’t have to change, except in acknowledgement, and in that the people surrounding us feel they can rely on us, our ability to remain consistent. It’s because we have built our commercial savvy quotient to a level which means we have the resources and the skills to make the necessary decisions and take the necessary steps to be commercially sustainable in an environment that will prove itself to be simply a moment in time.
Lockdown and pandemics do not create a vacuum; we do. And right now you can choose to sink into the vacuum or think about your infinite game, redefine and recommit to the impact you say you want to make, and you can choose to create your own collision point – where your great work and lived experience can fuse with the power of collaboration to make a truly you-shaped dent in the universe.