"...from melting pot to mosaic..."™
March 1, 2005
Integration for Productivity provides constructive ways to embrace and leverage differences. The United States is moving "from melting pot to mosaic."™ The mosaic of the new American landscape incorporates and engages all of its partners. They are not reluctant participants in the national effort, resisting acculturation, but are strong, proud and increasingly-successful contributors. These diverse partners are capable and comfortable retaining their distinguishing uniqueness. They already know themselves to be substantive, complementary and value-adding assets to their various communities.
Integration is replacing the American "melting pot" mentality of the past with the differentiated "mosaic" of the 21st Century. By proudly identifying cultural differences and capitalizing upon them, the new American "mosaic" can enhance domestic productivity and international stature.
-- James F. Bracher
On Sunday, February 27, 2005, Jim
Bracher, Theresa Wright and Juan
Uranga created a television program providing
practical illustrations regarding Integration
Jim Bracher, founder of Bracher
Center for Integrity in Leadership, Monterey, California,
and Juan Uranga, executive director
of the Center for Community Advocacy in Salinas, California,
were guests of Theresa Wright, community
service manager at KSBW-TV in Salinas and host of her
weekly talk show, Feedback at Five, broadcast
at 5 p.m. Sunday on KSBW, Channel 8, NBC.
Theresa facilitated conversations with Juan and Jim
on ways to better leverage the talent that surrounds
us, all the time. Their individual messages confirmed
that Integration for Productivity focuses
on ways to legitimately communicate, relate, motivate
and utilize everyone. Integration
is a more inclusive activity than being politically
correct when addressing diversity in terms of language,
race, sex, culture, physical circumstances or political
balance. Integrity-centered behaviors will require character, honesty, openness, authority, partnership, performance, charity and graciousness. Integration encourages productivity and profitability
through listening, respecting, communicating and collaborating.
Integration is about understanding, appreciating and
accommodating – our differences, our complementary
skills and our abilities – in such ways that
productivity and profits improve for all of our various
activities: personal, professional, social, educational,
cultural and spiritual.
Historically, mentoring has not reached out widely
enough to accelerate the growth and impact of individuals
who might have looked, spoken and thought very differently
from the mentor. The challenge for today and tomorrow
is to expand the circle of relationships and acknowledge
that passing along insights and values must include
Juan, during his teenage years living in South El
Paso, Texas, was mentored by an Anglo business executive.
The retired businessman taught presentation and debate
skills to Juan and a few of his friends from the barrio,
enabling them to communicate more effectively, with
reduced accents and greater confidence. Of the ten
participants, five became attorneys – an unlikely
scenario without the constructive support of the caring
business person. Today, as a consequence, Juan’s
energies enable farm workers to grow their self-esteem
by solving many of their own housing problems. With
Juan’s mentoring, committees are created enabling
field workers to partner with powerful land owners
to improve life in families and communities. Juan is
now mentoring Anglos to better understand the Latino
Jim related a story of a young bus-person whom he
had observed working in a restaurant. Jim mentioned
to the employee that he was impressed with his energy
and his smile and wondered when he anticipated becoming
a waiter. When the individual offered that he was unsure
because his language skills were not strong, Jim challenged
him to make the extra effort, sooner rather than later.
The advice was taken and soon the person moved to waiter,
head waiter and then union representative. Encouraging
comments, offered by those who care, can change lives.
Jim credits a dozen such mentors who changed his life,
and whose pictures hang in his offices as a reminder
of why it is appropriate to pass on insights and encouragement
Theresa provided the example of a college professor
who phoned her at a critical time in her career, suggesting
he had confidence that she possessed “what it
took” to earn a degree. It was for her a turning
point. A timely connection, with an important individual
in higher education who saw the potential of a young
woman, made a big difference.
Illustration upon illustration – all with the
same point: Our constructive words and our genuine
concerns for others, when demonstrated through reaching
out and offering assistance, change lives and improve
relationships. And, since relationships are at the
heart of all teams, personal and professional, then
productivity is the positive by-product, along with
Just before Theresa closed the program, Jim told
the story of a friend, who was delivering a
motivational speech to a board of directors. Having
been born with cerebral palsy, his speech was
labored and often difficult to understand. With stories
about learning to walk, speak, gain confidence, meet
and marry his wife and then become a parent of two
daughters, the speaker held the attention of the audience.
After 90 minutes, with listeners sharing laughs and
tears, the man with cerebral palsy presented attendees
with two haunting and enlightening questions. Just
before leaving the podium, carefully navigating steps,
using his crutches, he asked question # 1: “How
many of you understand me better now than when I started
to speak?” All
hands went up, affirming the improved understanding.
Then he brought the point home with question #2: “So,
who changed?” Stunned and touched, each listener
grasped his lesson: we can and must adapt to those
about us or we risk losing their valuable contributions.
Integration for productivity is
about integrity because it takes seriously the changing global landscape. Now, more than ever, it is incumbent upon each
- Understand people and their
- Appreciate the importance of
including all constituents in the building of stronger
and more effective teams and partnerships; and,
- Accommodate and leverage complementary
assets, obvious and subtle, embracing the "mosaic" that is the United States of America in the 21st Century.
By respecting and capitalizing on differences, all the while leveraging combined talents and energies throughout society, a more productive and globally-responsive America emerges. Integration for productivity is not simply a good response, it is the right response.