Recently I had to think like a gang member. I'm not in a gang, mind you, but I run with one.
And when I wanted make their latest production public, I was speechless. Literally. I had no voice. And that's when I drew on lessons from The Gang.
I was hoping to speak at a press conference to celebrate the publication of "Wise Beyond Your Field," co-authored by The Gang, leaders of a group of high performing, highly creative organizations based in the Valley. They range from Boise State head football coach Chris Petersen to Ada County Sheriff Gary Raney, from three CEOs - Jamie Cooper of Drake Cooper, Don Kemper of Healthwise and Bob Lokken of WhiteCloud - to Mark Hofflund of the Idaho Shakespeare Festival and John Michael Schert of the Trey McIntyre Project. A heady group to be around, let me tell you.
But back to the big day. As the master of ceremonies, I wanted to give kudos to The Gang, let them talk about leadership and perhaps give them a hard time about some things. (Hint: Chris Petersen is a lot of fun to tease, if you can imagine). So here was the big event: guests invited, parking reserved, books for sale, press corps at the ready.
I was silent and frustrated as all get out. As Petersen said, "It's like spraining your ankle the day before a bowl game."
So I had to think like The Gang. I opened "Wise Beyond Your Field" and found the answer.
The Gang members come from organizations that are masters at turning a disadvantage into an advantage. For instance, they've found ways to turn the remoteness of Boise into a positive. They've learned how being small and having fewer resources frees them to be more creative about finding ways to outperform their competitors. And they've found that being far away from other cities allows them to spring onto the market, often in unexpected ways.
Yet despite their wildly different fields, Gang members do many things the same. They generate "Aha!" moments as part of their daily routine. They spend lots of time thinking about how to create and maintain cultures of performance and how to make unimagined ideas real.
And they learn from each other. As one member says, "Once best practices are documented in your field, they become normal practices. You need to look beyond your field for new ways to do things. That's what The Gang does."
Position coaches may be routine in football, but what happens when a software firm or dance company takes on the idea? Long-term planning is old hat for business leaders, but not in football. So what will come when Petersen starts thinking that way?
So I thought like The Gang leaders and turned a disadvantage into an advantage. I asked Randy Hales, CEO of ZAGG in Salt Lake City, to moderate. He's a great supporter of the university, has followed The Gang, and is a great user of their ideas. He stepped into the breach and made the event shine.
You can shine too with the ideas from the book. As our Shakespeare actors would say, "Get Thee to the University Bookstore, Broncoshop or Amazon," buy your copy of "Wise Beyond Your Field," and feel great that proceeds will support scholarships.
We're hoping someday to have a student say, "Oh, yeah. I have a scholarship from The Gang."