In Greek mythology, Cassandra was a princess of Troy. A common version of her story is that, in an attempt to seduce her, the god Apollo granted her the gift of prophecy. Unfortunately, when she refused his advances, Apollo cursed her so that no one would believe her prophesies. During the Trojan War, Cassandra attempted to warn the citizens not to bring that large wooden Greek horse into the city. Unfortunately, the Trojans called her crazy and ignored her prophesy — leading of course to the unfortunate fall of the city and murder of its inhabitants.
I mention this because yesterday I was in a company-wide meeting where we discussed the advantages of committees as a vessel for coming up with ideas and solutions to challenges. Now there are a lot of good reasons to have a committee, but I want to focus on one that was entirely serendipitous.
I’m part of TestOut’s Wellness Committee, and our goal is to help increase the health and well-being of employees — because healthy employees miss fewer work days, are more productive, and generally more positive to be around.
We were tasked with coming up with a company-wide activity that would increase our overall health. The caveats were that it had to be fun enough that employees would want to participate and yet challenging enough that it would make us put forth real effort. At first, committee members came up with some of the usual ideas of drinking more water, giving up sugar, encouraging exercise, and so forth. They were all good ideas, but we felt we needed more.
Our final result came about in a very simple way, we just kept kicking ideas around and sharing thoughts. Pretty soon ideas began to flow, and many of them caused us to say, “Hey! That’s excellent.” For example, one member suggested we tie our efforts in with TestOut’s 25th Anniversary, several said it should be a long-term activity, and another suggested that it be something we could easily measure. We took all these ideas, mixed them together and, voila! The “Around the World Challenge” was born.
The idea is simple, each week for a six-month period, employees would track the miles they walked, ran or biked outside of their daily routines. Mileage would be compiled and recorded each Monday morning and we would plot company progress towards circumventing the world — 25,000 miles (Yes. Yes. I know the earth’s circumference is only 24,901 miles, but it is our 25th year in business.) The challenge is going well, we have lots of participation and are on track to reach our goal.
We were able reach a solution because, as a committee, we didn’t close our minds or think that we had the right ideas and answers the first time we met. We were willing to keep trying and not discount any member’s ideas. Eventually, we came up with an enjoyable activity where all employees have the opportunity to get involved in helping meet our goals.
Solutions can come about when people are open to new ideas and willing to hear points of view and ideas from others who may have experience dealing with similar issues, or who may just have a different perspective.
Good things can happen when you’re working hard and putting forth your best effort. Many of the world’s greatest inventions and discoveries happened quite by accident when people were trying to accomplish something. Some of these notable accomplishments include penicillin, microwave ovens, Post-it notes, and the ever-popular chocolate chip cookie.
Some say that committees are where good ideas go to die. Not so! Here at TestOut we constantly look for new ways to improve and offer the best in IT courseware, and we use committees to do it. We’ll accept input from any person, place or thing that helps us meet the needs of our students. Because truth from whatever source, is still truth.
About the Author — Wendy Edwards started out as a Sales Assistant with TestOut Corporation more than seven years ago. Two years ago, her excellent customer service earned her a spot on the coveted K-12 Accounts Sales Team. While raising 3 children, Wendy received a bachelor’s degree in Elementary Education from Brigham Young University. Her passion is running — anywhere from 5Ks to marathons, but her favorite is the relay race. She is also an awe-inspiring three-time winner of TestOut’s Halloween Costume Contest. (Overall, Funniest, and Scariest)