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Integration for Productivity
"...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

Integration for Productivity

On Sunday, February 27, 2005, Jim Bracher, Theresa Wright and Juan Uranga created a television program providing practical illustrations regarding Integration for Productivity.

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 everyone.

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 community.

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 to others.

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 profitability.

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 person to:

  1. Understand people and their circumstances;
  2. Appreciate the importance of including all constituents in the building of stronger and more effective teams and partnerships; and,
  3. 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.