Vicki James had been appointed Vice President of Operations when her boss retired. In her conversations with Adam Steele, one thing was clear. They needed to rethink their manufacturing operations. As Adam said: “Bert and I were like brothers, but he was stuck in his thinking. It’s time for a change.”
Vicki had conceptualized the big picture of the change she wanted to make, but she wasn’t sure of how to move forward. Her conceptual model seemed right, but it would necessitate a lot of other changes she was not comfortable in making. When she expressed her concern to Adam his advice wasn’t what she expected: “Take some time off and do a blue highways journey. Clear your head. I’m sure the answer will come to you once you get some time off away from the problem.”
Vicki took his advice, but the trip hadn’t been that helpful until she came across an artisan community she never heard about before. It was in a beautiful forested area with live in workshops. Vicki decided to spend time with the artisans mostly to satisfy her curiosity about the inspiration for the works of art.
When she asked a wood sculptor how he envisioned the piece that he wanted to make, she was surprised with his answer: “You have to go with your gut. I’ve done this work for a number of years, and over time I just developed sense of what was right. What I’ve found is that the sculpture will evolve as I’m working on it. I couldn’t possibly have a plan and stick to it. I just have to go adapt as it seems right.”
As Vicki watched a stained glass artisan select the glass she wanted for the panel she was making. She heard much of the same thing as she had heard before. I have tons of glass to choose from. I’ll narrow my choices to a few pieces of glass. They are different color shading so I’ll need to see how they complement other pieces. I’ll make an initial choice but then I’ll think on it. In the end, I’ll go with my gut. I guess you can say that in the end, I don’t decide until it just feels right.
Each of the other artisans said much the same thing, which Vicki summarized in notes she wrote out before she started her trip back home.
- Rely on your experience
- Trust your gut
- It has to feel right
- Adapt as your work begins to materialize
As Vicki thought about the changes she wanted to make, she was comfortable with the big picture but not the details. Then she began to realize that she had her own community of artisans – workers who could take her concept and form it into the new operation that Adam had challenged her to develop.
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“Your mind only knows some things. Your inner voice, your instinct, knows everything. If you listen to what you know instinctively, it will always lead you down the right path.” – Henry Winkler (Actor)