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The Fate of Great Work…

You never know how what you are laboring on today will be valued over the long haul. Working with Presidents and senior teams, as I do, I am always striving to extend their perspective and let them see what they are doing in a greater context. It makes for expansive visions and bigger stronger leaders.

When I worked with Advanced Measurement, I pushed until they hit on what they were really here for. They just plain had a better mousetrap: an interface for the control environment for the equipment operated by working stiffs in oil service. It was safer, extended the information from the site to the office, and simpler.

It was and is a great notion, almost inevitable that someone would make it happen, really. Why not them? Why not now? It was a TSN Turning Point that led the company down a much more expansive path.

It is tough to persuade folks who were – as we all are – totally transfixed by the day to day demands. Getting orders, dealing with production issues, squabbles between staff or with suppliers [or customers].These challenges – they are just so absorbing! Seeing day to day difficulties against the backdrop of a bigger picture of ultimate potential helps energize the work and give meaning when we might otherwise give up.

I visited the Last Supper in Milan. Leonardo was quite miffed when he got the assignment from Lodovico Sforza – in whose service he then was.

“Who’s going to see this? Monks! It’ll be in the dining hall of a cloister!” Lucky for us, he tore himself away from visions of building war machines and finally, begrudgingly, bore down. He wanted to work in a new way with walls. Whereas other murals like the Sistine Chapel were made in fresco by painting fast into wet plaster, he was a notorious fusser and changer. He painted oils on the hard wall. Much more fragile as it turned out.

But the flaking pigment didn’t have nearly as turbulent a history as the refectory itself. It was abandoned for much of the 16th century. Used as a stable by Napoleonic forces. But most dramatic was a post WW2 photo in the anteroom where you wait for your 20 minute viewing. The whole refectory had been blown away by an Allied bomb. Except that wall and it’s opposite. In the photo, there is a tarp hung over the work flapping in the open air.

To stand in that room and look deep into a magnificent tableau is a meditation on the durability of great works.

I doubt Leonardo could have guessed we would be standing in front of L’Ultimo Chena in awe and in 2013. The twists and turns of fate have seen other great works we don’t even know be lost forever. This one survived.

We may never know the ultimate destination or impact of what we do – or could do – today.

You may know a company or a leader that you sense has a destiny they just can’t yet grasp. Presume to send this to them.


Doug Bouey
Catalyst Strategic Consultants Ltd.

What’s Our Business?

Bringing out the best in you, your company and your people.

Doug Bouey, President
Catalyst Strategic Consultants Ltd.

Calgary, AB // Phone: 403.777.1144


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