Chris Lindberg and Hymie Gordon in Cape Town
Posted on 14 June 2016 by Christopher Lindberg
In April of 2013, my EMBA class (Class XIII) traveled to South Africa for our Global Emersion Experience. During this time, I was working for Johnson Controls, Inc. (“JCI”) as a global real estate leader and had some colleagues/direct reports in Johannesburg, SA. While in country, I was able to meet with these local colleagues, and we established a strategy for growing our business in that region. The strategy proved successful, and as such I had the opportunity to return to South Africa in January of 2014.
On this trip, I met a South African man on a plane while traveling between Johannesburg and Cape Town. His name was (is) Hymie Gordon. When Hymie asked me those dreadful words, “So, what do you do?” I thought – “Oh man, I ignore people like you and sleep on planes!” However, I didn’t want to be rude, so I engaged in the conversation, but instead of talking about real estate, I said: “I run global leadership teams”. His eyes lit up, and we talked for every minute of the ride, most likely annoying everyone else on the plane.
We agreed to meet later that week before I flew off to London, and thus began a world class friendship. I met his wife, his kids, and his 175lb dog, Rocky. Really, who goes off with some strange guy in Africa? – Well, me, I guess…
As our friendship developed, we clearly saw an ideological alignment in family, business, people development, and the concepts of Systems Thinking. By then, I also knew that Hymie was one of the founding partners of Ennea International and had learned a good deal about the organization. As Hymie and his partners were planning their global expansion, I agreed to help them succeed in America with occasional strategy discussions and market assistance.
Then, as with many executives these days, I was laid off by JCI in April of 2015. I began looking for a job as anyone with a wife, 5 kids, 2 dogs, and a lizard would do. Unfortunately, I was burned out on Corporate America and most opportunities available involved some type of relocation. Furthermore, the world is full of Systems, but not Systems Thinkers, and I felt like I was speaking a language, and seeing things, that others did not. Hymie asked me at just the right time to join the partnership and lead the business in North America. My EMBA cohort assisted with the operational due diligence and I accepted around this time last year.
What we don’t talk enough about in Systems Theory per se is that individual humans are part of each System. We may use words like “Resources” or “Departments”, but actually the individual people are a key component of many Systems. Therefore, in order to truly impact a System, you MUST impact the people. But, how do we impact people when we don’t really understand them? Frankly, we don’t really even understand ourselves most of the time. That being said, while there are many different personality profiles/tests to help us, such as: DiSC, MBTI, and StrengthsFinder, none of them tell you “Why” you are the way you are, they only tell you “What” you are.
As humans, we are unique complex Systems who operate within multiple Systems. These Systems impact us deeply and we develop Feedback Loops on how we perceive the world. Jamshid has told us that, “The World is not run by those that have the answers, it is run by those who convince us that they have the answers.” So, how do we find those answers? – by asking and understanding the “Why”.
At Ennea International, this is what we do. We work with humans and teams at their core to help them achieve high performance, regardless of the System in which they operate. We help humans understand the “Why”.
Let’s face it, we live in a time where we need to change something, but often don’t know where to start. We need to start with ourselves, the Systems we’re part of, and those we can best influence. Join the revolution!
“The world is not what it is, but what we perceive it to be.”