Last year I began to think about a subject that might be that might be of interested to present at CaterSource. There were three things I considered as topics came to mind. I knew I didn’t want to talk about anything that was catering specific. We have plenty of experts at Food for Thought and I would leave that up to them. I wanted to present with someone else as I thought it would make for a more compelling presentation. The last thing I knew was that I wanted to talk about something that people could possibly use outside of their work life. That’s when I thought about visioning and Zingerman’s.
I’ve been a big fan of Zingerman’s for over 20 years. I had the good fortune of first meeting their managing partners Paul and Ari when interviewing for a role on their catering team. As a graduate of Michigan State University the thought of working in Ann Arbor in the heart of the University of Michigan was a bit unnerving. While I’ve yet to have a sandwich that rivals their in-house porchetta dusted with fennel pollen on a home-made onion roll the timing was not right to make a move and that sandwich wasn’t a big enough draw to get me out of Chicago.
Over the years (and many sandwiches) I stayed in touch with Ari, spent too much money on mail-order and invested in our staff by sending them to Zingerman’s customer service trainings. Then three years ago our senior leadership team visited my friend Ann Lofgren and her team for the two day visioning seminar in Ann Arbor. While I had been and remained a big fan of all things Zingerman’s this visioning thing seemed a little too crunchy and meditative even for me.
Our session was comprised of about 40 people assembled from all over the world and all walks of life. Perth, London, New York, Chicago, San Francisco, Alabama were all represented. Accounting firms, restaurants, management consultants, hospitals, groomers, artisan textile producers, you name it they were in attendance. There could not have been a more eclectic, diverse or interesting group of people assembled in one room for two days other then maybe on a jury.
The key difference between this group and a jury though, was that very quickly there was complete consensus. No one abstained. There was a universal agreement that visioning could provide a powerful tool to make meaningful, lasting change.
Giving yourself the opportunity and permission to think big, be creative, be vulnerable and not get mired in the details of a plan can provide the potential to achieve things you never thought were possible. Through engaging the wisdom of others, what may start out as something that is yours can be transformed to something much bigger and more rewarding for you and those around you.
Change is hard, change is essential. People hate to be told that there is going to be a change. Yet the better we adapt to change or better yet, can become a disrupter and institute change the better our chance of success.