The way of St. James and the concept of personal vision
“What are we doing in Santiago?” –asked one of my companions from &samhoud, under her blue, soaked anorak – “on top of everything else …”. In reality we are not in Santiago but in a mud-coloured place between the districts of Arca and San Antón, driving in pouring rain and, in reality, by referring to “on top of everything else” Virginia was playing with the double meaning of the economic – and mental – state of the country and about unemployment which were had talked about many times. She smiled at the play of words. “What are we doing here?”
Two days before we had arrived in Galicia, thirty people from different backgrounds and most of us had only been working for a short period of time for the consulting company &samhoud in Spain or Holland. Nobody from Malaysia or Germany this time, although each one of our companions will go on to make this trip, as do all employees. It was curious to look at the expectant faces as we introduced ourselves and greeted our trainers. In truth, however, everything was quicker, more logical and easier than we thought and, as one of my companions commented, when we were already sat in one of the meeting rooms ready to start our first autumn journey searching for mnemonics for each of our names. These boys and girls thus moved very quickly from being total unknowns to Barbra The Beast, Joppe not from somewhere and Virginia Like a Virgin… This started a small journey which for many left them feeling bigger than they had imagined.
We would look at two case studies over the next two days, like MBA students, that of Commerce Bank and &samhoud. We talked about it during our long journey. In the morning we drove about 15 kilometres with Pedro who had a local company and he told us some interesting stories. Pedro is also an atheist but he insists in this “personal” lecture that everyone is to follow his or her own path. We enjoy some excellent meals both in small villages along the road as well as at places of authentic gastronomic pilgrimage. In the evening we then study concepts related to the company strategy and the application of consultancy knowledge.
The employees are making the journey, as I was able to gather by asking people around me, with a number of a priori objectives: getting to know the company better, expressing fears and expectations, creating teams and starting the process of what is known as “Personal Vision”. This idea has been developed over recent years by Salem Samhoud based on the Value Profit Chain from Harvard and is no more than the application of the concepts of “mission, vision, qualities and fundamental values” typical of a company’s management environment, career planning and the personal needs of each employee. In this way, as we learnt in the subsequent work sessions during each evening, it is possible for each employee to achieve his or her maximum potential and for the company to manage to align its own vision with that of each employee. What are the main consulting areas of &samhoud? How can this change be integrated with the leadership, what does lean mean in terms of cost-benefit, what does our company have to do with society? These are other questions which were answered over various days.
Driving through the Galician beech trees which have already turned a chestnuty brown, between drizzle and rain, with the sun shining on some days, is a small personal sacrifice, but the sensations compensate for it. You can feel relaxed, breathing in fresh air, the conversations which go nowhere, just being together, not being in any hurry, sharing what you want or need and not thinking. Or thinking.
Virginia smiles. We are arriving at Monte Do Gozo and a group of pilgrims hug us as they ask us why we have come, where we are from, what is the meaning “tired but happy”. In the evening, in the Los Abetos hotel, we meet to talk about our drawings: in them we were asked to show eight concepts which are “present, past, future, heart, mind, intuition, professional and personal”. The results are surprising and after the most reluctant had spoken, we ended up showing who we really are. The process moves forward and we listen to the stories of the others, beautiful and painful which definitely helps us to understand and relate to each other. An initial phase starts to be, at the individual level, covered: we are who were are, then when we come back from the road, we see in what way we became who we are, looking for qualities and values and challenges, suitable goals. “After a few days, I feel unburdened and more full of the urge to do things”, said one of my travel companions. And shortly we have to think of taking our leave of the companions we have met on this particular journey. We have learnt about &samhoud and about important corporate strategic concepts. However, above all, we have met friends.
“Now, I know what we are doing here: not doing” Virginia said to me on Friday night. “Just being. In order to do what it necessary, first of all, we have to do nothing. Step back, review, recollect…..and then, little by little, think about who you are and what are your goals … &samhoud gives us an opportunity which we must use, because we can contribute to making the situation of Spanish companies better using cultural change processes on the one hand and, on the other, we can look at how to improve our own lives and the lives of those around us. However, to do this it is necessary to spend some time travelling in the rain. Getting to know ourselves. Getting to rediscover ourselves. Setting real goals. Being together. Getting soaked”.