The Penguin Shuffle

The Penguin Shuffle

I was in Summerside PEI last week to moderate a Sponsorship Summit. It was incredible! In addition to our work delivering a full inventory and asset valuation and mentoring workshop to the City of Summerside, we participated in their first ever sponsor summit. It was a half-day event for key existing partners and a few prospects. There were over 60 people in attendance. I had the pleasure of presenting alongside Dr. Ian Reid, retired professor from the University of New Brunswick. As I flew west after a few additional days with the City of Summerside team and some of their clients and community partners, I had time to reflect.

I witnessed something in these few days that I have seen before, but not often enough. I call it the penguin shuffle.  I stole this idea from an article I read a few months ago about working together and how penguins do it. I saw this penguin shuffle thrive in Summerside at the summit. Here is how the it works.

When the weather is good, penguins each do their own thing. They cooperate and assist each other as well as doing their own thing and fulfill their own responsibilities. They are very social and work together. But when the weather gets really cold and those arctic winds blow hard, the penguins work together ever more closely. In fact, they form a circle and wrap their arms/wings around each other—the youngest and frailest on the inside and the strongest on the outside of the layered circle. They show the young how this works and how important it is that everyone works together or they will all freeze to death. No one could survive such cold alone. And as the penguins on the outside get cold, they are moved or shuffled inside to the centre so they can warm up. Then others in the different layers shuffle to the outer layer. Until the really cold winds are settled, they continue to do the penguin shuffle. And if they don’t work together, and if they don’t constantly circulate the outers inward and all take turns, none of them will survive. It is truly an amazing show of Mother Nature demonstrating survival of the group through teamwork versus survival of the fittest.

In Summerside, the team that orchestrated the event was tremendous. Everyone had roles, but everyone pitched in to help each other. What was also very cool was the interaction of the sponsors working together for the benefit of all in the room. They shared ideas and concepts, and built plans and ideas to help each other out. Too often, I see organizations being territorial and secretive versus open and supportive. What is worse, I often see such silos and protectionism occur within organizations. Typically, those are the organizations that don’t get the best ROI on their sponsorship investment.

Take a good look at your organization. Let me know if your team truly does the penguin shuffle or if perhaps they need to learn a few lessons from our arctic friends.

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