Thursday, November 30, 2006

Celebrate good times, come on!

LEARNING & INNOVATION – November 30, 2006
By Moje Ramos-Aquino, FPM

Celebrate good times, come on!

If you think that your organization’s competitive edge in today’s dynamic, competitive global business environment is technology or structure or strategy, you might be heading for doomsville.

True, your strategy (vision, mission, values) provides the impetus for success. Yet, this strategy needs to be translated into rituals and ceremonies to form the core of your organizational culture. On the rational side, you need to implement, measure analyze and compare your strategy according to actionable plans.

Let me clarify that when we say “celebrate” we don’t simply mean corporate get-togethers, parties, food, drinks, decorations, accoutrements, entertainment, games, toasting, speeches, raffle, picnics and outings, dancing, programs, and the like, that are seen as artificial, humdrum, meaningless events, albeit waste of time and money and manipulative. In these occasions employees are forced to attend, listen to boring speeches, endure boring programs and get through with it with a lingering aftertaste. The day after the get-together, people compliment or complain about the food, the program, or anything that is not to their expectations. Employees talk about anything, but the reason for the togetherness.

Starting tomorrow, December 1st, Christmas celebrations will be held everywhere in all forms and of different magnitude and importance. Committees are formed to take care of details, budgets are set and the mood is set. When I asked some people why there is a need for an office Christmas party, the common answers are: it is a tradition, it is an opportunity for employees to get reacquainted, it is budgeted, and everybody is expecting it though some wish that management might just divide the party money among the employees and do away with the party and the potential expenses to the employee. In one company, the lunch conversation at the cafeteria was about “What are you going to wear? What will be the prizes for the raffles and games? Who will be the guest entertainers?” In one organization, the one highlight for the party is an exchange of gift worth Php250.00. There is no talk about the significance of the occasion or even how it impacts the bottom line of the company. Gift-giving is done as mere social obligation or as “pagtanaw ng utang na loob.” Programs are predictable and repetitious.

Whatever, we need these parties. It is when employees reflect and connect. It is when we get away from the daily routine, shake off the drudgery and stress of work, forget the usual shop talk, do away with our corporate mask or personas, enjoy camaraderie and fellowship with our work community, celebrate our survival or successes for the year and affirm the presence of God in our work area.

When we say “celebrate” we mean symbolic events that are timely, well-orchestrated and suited to prevailing situations. Writers Deal and Key (Corporate Celebration) assert that “celebration is not add-ons; it is the center source, the spiritual fuel that ignites performance and propels a culture forward.”

When we celebrate, “there is a fundamental power in this traditional ceremony that stirs the psyche and kindles deep emotions. It brings up core values. Pride exudes for whomever can let the ceremony’s spirit overcome adversity and embrace what is good about life and humanity. Celebration is vital to the human psyche. All of us have an emotional craving, a deep-seated need to participate in ritual and ceremony. Most everyone can recall a celebration where he or she felt truly significant, important, full of emotion and meaning. Our chests swell with palpable feeling connecting us to our inner selves, to others, and to the enduring human spirit.”

I am sure you still have memories of your graduation, Boy or Girl Scout achievement, sports championship, Independence Day, and many other rituals and ceremonies in our life. Next columns let us discuss the attributes that make these celebrations so powerful. Please share with us how you celebrate the special occasions in your organizational life.

As Kool & the Gang sing, “There's a party goin' on right here. A celebration to last throughout the years. So bring your good times, and your laughter, too. We gonna celebrate your party with you.”

(Moje could help you in your journey to business excellence and in celebrating the human spirit. Her email addy is

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