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“Building Enchanted Castles” by Dixie John

By Deborah Wilson | October 05, 2020 | 0 Comments


I was occupied for a few days over the summer with the text of a British author born in 1847.  Since, then, an idea he presented stayed with me over the past couple months.  It was both bold and provisional.  Since reading it, I can recognize the practical application of it woven throughout some of my day to day activity.  Sit with it if you have a moment to spare.  Further, reflect on it a bit, then decide if or where it takes you.  I found that in seeking a deeper understanding, there is a certain substance about his statement woven into places you wouldn’t necessarily look to find it.

Thomas Troward was considered a bit of a mystic.  He thought that we sometimes incorrectly regard beauty too much as a superficial thing.  He went on to say (I paraphrase), “Beauty is the externalization of harmony; the coordinated workings of all powers of being and the province of the calm thinker”.

It’s easy through our experiences to recognize beauty in the traditional senses; a well-designed garden, a delightful recipe, or enchanting fragrance.   In terms of our business lives, given the complexity of forms and structures spread across large groups of people, getting to harmony and hence beauty, as Troward described, becomes an intentional science.  We look for methodical solutions to keep the moving parts organized.  A business case, for instance, coordinates elements to successfully assemble the form of a harmonious idea we decide is worth pursuing.

We have an idea (vision/strategy) that can be in response to a problem or perhaps an innovative pursuit.  We initiate our efforts by declaring how we think we can attain the harmonious outcome, for instance, who will help us get there and what technology will need to be in place.  We put the case in front the right people getting them involved in the right moments.  We measure the Impact the new pursuit may have on our business by understanding the gap between where we are now and our destination.  Having a clear idea of the powers of risk & benefits, we sift through the options to determine the model that will be a good guidepost to arrival.  There is tension, trade-offs and tenacity!  Ultimately, we are seeking the harmonious end.  It feels rewarding to get there.

Due to the magnitude of our more complex pursuits, having a robust business case in place lays the foundation for a successful end.   A solid business case:

  • Provides decision makers with the information needed to make sound choices along the way
  • Outlines the objectives, success factors and risk associated with the initiative
  • Summaries the costs and benefits
  • Creates a baseline for measuring the initiative’s success at a future date

The castells (Catalan word for castle) or human towers in Barcelona have been a wonderful tradition to witness.  It is considered a success when assembly and disassembly of the human tower can be done in complete succession.  The tradition originated in the 18th century and involves teams of “castellers” standing on each other’s shoulders .  The assembly is complete once all “castellers” have climbed into their designated places, and the “enxaneta” climbs into place at the top and raises one open hand. The “enxaneta” then climbs down the other side of the “castell”, after which the remaining levels of “castellers” descend in highest to lowest order until all have reached safety.  The harmonious build of the human structure, that can sometimes be as high as nine levels, is a testament to the entangled coordination of its members.  It is, indeed, harmony in motion.

As you grapple with to bring your initiatives to form using strategies, measurements, technologies, and people, remind yourself of the harmony you are seeking.  Overcome the view of business case planning as cumbersome or simply administrative hurdles to complete.  In fact, the business case is an acknowledgement of a beautiful form you have decided to pursue. Documenting it in this structure sets you on the path to externalizing it.

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