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Avoiding Depletion

August 3, 2015

…A Story About Easter Island

by Jeanine Izzo

Easter Island String of Heads

Once upon a time, on the most remote inhabited island in the world, the population was all but decimated.  Picture a landscape full of people, resources and tradition stripped down to a barren land with just 30 people remaining.  This is the true story of the Rapi Nui people of Easter Island.  Easter Island is located west of Chile in the Pacific ocean.  It’s most recognizable elements are the unique Moai statues which were built and raised in honor of their village chiefs that had passed away to protect the village people from harm.  The Moai can be seen around the coast where they are raised on (or knocked down from) platforms.  En route to their predominant oceanside locations, many horizontal statues dot the landscape as if they were interrupted on the way to their intended location where they were to stand guard.  In my opinion, the most intriguing place is the quarry where the statues were carved (pictured below).
Easter Island Quarry

Whereas some of the specifics of these statues are debated by scientists, everyone agrees that the skills required to construct, transport and raise these masses (some estimated to be 14 tons) without machinery was incredible.  Some even say other worldly.

Despite the (presumed) passion, skill and tradition related to these impressive monuments, the Rapi Nui people could not prevent the depletion of resources on the island due to the lack of planning, communication and collaboration on a wider scale.  They waited too long to recognize the signs of their demise…’choosing’ instead to participate in battles and deforestation until their resources were depleted.

To me, it seemed clear that these statues were an obsession that fostered a one-track mind…or tunnel vision.  Despite their dedication and workmanship they were unable to create a sustainable future.

Think about the parallels to the modern day workplace tendencies.

  • Focusing on what is right in front of us…and missing the risks and opportunities in the periphery/distance
  • Setting up competing objectives…and expecting collaboration among departments
  • Pressing for more, more, more without proper support…leading to stress/burnout/depletion and ultimately falling short of desired goals
  • Relying on old habits and limitations…not making the time to find innovative solutions
  • Putting a band aid on problems…instead of fixing root cause and saving time and frustration
  • Placing blame…in place of taking ownership, providing support and working together
  • Failing to set a sustainable foundation and a vision that inspires
  • Neglecting to communicate how each department/function/person is expected to contribute to the vision in an actionable way…thus promoting complacency through ambiguity
  • Forgetting to slow down to evaluate the progress and environment in order to make proactive adjustments…leading to highly reactive behaviors which result in longer delays, higher costs and delayed benefits

Forward Moving Tips:

Wherever you reside within the company there are ways you can contribute to improving all (or most) of the tendencies above.

1.  Start by asking yourself the following questions

  • Am I looking far enough into the future to anticipate, identify and act on risks and opportunities?
  • How comfortable am I at speaking up early when I see a potential problem or opportunity?
  • How well do I look at situations through the perspective of others to aide collaboration?
  • How do I keep my knowledge/skills current?
  • Can I clearly articulate the vision of the company?
  • What is my role in bringing that vision to life?
  • What are my strengths and weaknesses that add to or detract from the goal(s)?
  • How can I more fully utilize my strengths and minimize my weaknesses?
  • What can I do to communicate more effectively?
  • In what ways can I take more initiative to solve problems, solicit feedback and evaluate progress?

2.  Based on your answers, pick one or two of the questions above and focus on improving your related behaviors.  Note:  If you choose more than one or two to work on at a time, you may become overwhelmed and thwart any progress that you may have otherwise made.

3.  When you need additional support to answer the questions and take related action, reach out to a trusted adviser, manager or coach.

For assistance with moving forward with more focus, confidence and success along your journey,  Contact Viage Partners today.

© Viage Partners 2015. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Viage Partners with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

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