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July 18, 2005
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 The H.R. Doctor Is In

A Bunch of Hui

The National Association of Counties Annual Conference for 2005 will be held in Hawai’i. The HR Doctor has never been there, but I am aware that it is very beautiful, has a rich cultural heritage of its own, was an independent kingdom until taken over by the United States and goes out of its way to welcome visitors.

Despite never having been there, there is one cultural legacy of the indigenous people of Hawai’i, among many no doubt, from which every manager could benefit - the Hui.

In our lives, we can never have too much Hui. Hui, according to my friend and colleague Mark Nerenhausen, who lived in Maui for many years, is a "gathering for inspiration." It is a meeting of an extended family, village, community or group. It is an opportunity for "grounding" and reviewing common values. In short, a Hui is a blend of a staff strategic retreat, a meeting with people you know and have worked or lived with for a long time and a chance for a rebirth of ideas and collegiality.

Mark is president of the Broward Center for the Performing Arts, a wonderful inter-governmental agency born out of an agreement between a city, a county, a school board and private partners. His periodic all-staff gatherings are called Hui’s and embody the best of that tradition Ñ minus the dancers. The staff gathers to celebrate the successes of the past quarter, to look ahead at the challenges and the opportunities they will face in the next three months, and to hear reports about the long-term prospects for the organization and the strategic direction set by the city, county, school and private industry colleagues who come together to form a unique consortium which is the Broward Center.

Part of the Hui is one-sided communication or knowledge transference described above. However, another part is a caring opportunity for staff members to provide input, ideas and innovations that can shape the strategic future of the organization. In that sense, the communication is definitely two-way and it provides mutual feedback.

The final component of the Hui is celebration. It is recognition that the staff has worked hard and accomplished much. It is an appreciation for the part played by the organization in the life of the community and of how the staff brings the organization to life in the first place.

The concept of the Hui as a gathering for inspiration is a very powerful model that can be transplanted to every public or private business. It is a mix of inspiration, perspiration and dedication which can help make an organization and an individual successful.

The Hui concept can work very well in a family as well as in a workplace setting. When was the last time that you arranged a family gathering to look ahead to celebrate and to appreciate? It need not be formal - especially with a small group - but the importance of the concept of a gather for inspiration is universal! Don’t miss out. Life should really be a bunch of Hui!

All the best from the HR Doctor!

Phil Rosenberg


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