The original touchstone was basanite, a smooth, black stone used to test the quality of gold and silver. It was rubbed across the precious metal, and the authenticity could be determined by the color of the streak produced. The word touchstone now means anything that tests genuineness or excellence.
Genuineness and excellence are at the heart of what drives people forward in dramatic surges of progress. They are the roots. From this powerful core, real transformation takes place. But people will want to test it. So give them something powerful to test.
For this very reason I created Touchstone Events.
These are gatherings that dive deep and make contact with what is real, essential, and core to the work of change in ways that generate sudden, striking forward momentum. The purpose of a Touchstone Event is to gain a perch in a particular culture by striking a keynote, like a tuning fork, that causes the entire community to resonate in response with powerful authenticity.
Done well, a Touchstone Event moves the entire community forward in one giant leap, constructing the common beliefs and understandings that sustain coherent activity into the foreseeable future.
Touchstone events are the Jet Engines of change
Jet engines generate tremendous thrust. Here is how they work:
1. Air is drawn in at the front with a fan.
2. A compressor raises the pressure of the air. The
compressor is made up of fans with many blades working together to
uniformly compress the air.
3. The compressed air is sprayed with fuel.
4. A spark ignites the mixture.
5. The burning gases expand and blast out through the nozzle, at the back of the engine. As the jets of gas shoot backward, the engine and the aircraft are thrust forward.
Here’s how Touchstone Events generate their thrust:
1. They draw people and resources in to prepare for an event. People begin to anticipate the opportunity and forward momentum, and they become engaged.
2. As the event nears, people begin to sense more acutely what is at stake and the opportunities presented. This anticipation across all the parties raises their participation, creating pressure across all contributors.
3. Contributors to the event are given coaching and guidance on how to realize progress and make forward advances in the heat of the live event, making it possible for them to catch fire with passion and possibility.
4. The event takes place. Good intentions are transformed into action, the spark that transforms the preparation and
generates forward movement across many streams of activity simultaneously.
5. The good ideas catch and move through the participants, generating chain reactions of interactions. The focus of the Touchstone Event provides the channel through which all this force travels, thrusting the change program forward.