Thoughts From Our Heads

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Restorative and S-Town

Tuesday 4th April 2017

If you are a fan of podcasts you have probably not escaped the recent release of S-Town - the new podcast from the creators of Serial and this American Life. This podcast pitched itself as a murder-mystery but quickly transforms info a profile of a unique, brilliant and troubled character who becomes the star of the story. There has been lots of debate about whether the podcast should have been made (I wont reveal why so I don't spoil the plot) and the nature of the story that was told. I am not going to focus on that though. 

From my perspective S-Town sent my strengths spotting into overdrive. While it can be dangerous to guess the strengths of others as it can have varied results, one strength in this podcast stood out to me. John is a clock restorer, (can you see where I am going with this...) he is extremely talented at taking rare and complicated clocks and restoring them to their former glory. In my opinion he probably had Restorative quite high in his strengths. Now my Restorative is about as low as you can go (its 32) and my Maximizer is at number 3. For me, if it's broke, throw it out. I have no time for things that don't work. Restorative is strength I have struggled with but John in S-Town helped me to really understand and appreciate this theme. John exhibits a patience and precision with his clock restorations that I could only dream of. He painstakingly takes apart the clocks, looking for signals of what the original clock maker intended, ignoring years of shoddy clock restoring that have left misleading marks on the clock. That is the key to Restorative; its not just about getting the clock working again - a quick fix here and there could get the same result - it is about an obsession with getting things back to their intended state; being true to the original design and functionality. John is not fazed by complexity or problems that seem insurmountable. He spends years restoring some clocks, knowing that the hard work will pay off eventually. In another example he takes over 30 years to make the perfect sundial for a collage professor, the finished result is detailed, spectacular and fascinating. I suspect some other themes are also at play here, what do you think?

Through this understanding I have come to really appreciate the value of Restorative in an organizational setting. To have people who are not fazed by complex issues, who are willing to 'get their hands dirty', get stuck in and try different solutions without giving up. I like to think of someone with restorative as a 'problem consultant' coming in when everything hits the fan and mess is abundant. The Restorative individuals can come in, pick up the pieces and figure out how to get back to where we once were. For me I will still focus on finding the dull gold that I can polish to a brilliant shine, but I appreciate those restoratives in my life who can figure out how to get the gold out of the ground.