Co-op News

Gettysburg Inspires Co-op Leaders

By Victoria A. Rocha | ECT Staff Writer Published: December 3rd, 2013

Union and Confederate armies clashed on the fields of Gettysburg, Pa., 150 years ago. But lessons during the four-year Civil War are just as relevant today, Pennsylvania electric co-op leaders learned recently.

Adams Electric Co-op leaders talk to a Union officer reenactor on Little Round Top in Gettysburg. (Photo By: Duane Kanagy)

Adams Electric Co-op leaders talk to a Union officer reenactor on Little Round Top in Gettysburg. (Photo By: Duane Kanagy)

Leadership lessons from the July 1863 Battle of Gettysburg were the focus of a daylong workshop attended last month by 17 directors and staff members of Adams Electric Cooperative in Gettysburg.

The workshop on the battlefield and other sites was a new venue for the group’s annual strategic planning meeting that usually takes place at the co-op’s headquarters.

“We knew about similar trainings through colleges and private consultants. So we said, ‘Let’s go out to the battlefield and get a new take on strategic planning,’ ” said Duane Kanagy, the co-op’s manager of communications and community services.

Instead of writing on marker boards and sitting through breakout sessions, participants found themselves loading and firing cannons during battle simulations. The team-building activity “was an exercise in making do and adapting on the fly,” said Kanagy. “We had a five-man crew and we lost two people. So we had to figure out how to adapt with fewer people.”

The Gettysburg Foundation offers the workshop, “In the Footsteps of Leaders,” for corporations, the military and other organizations. The foundation also runs the Gettysburg National Military Park Museum and Visitor Center, where many of the classes take place.

When they weren’t engaging in simulated warfare, teachers took the group around the battlefield, discussing the conflict’s complexities and personalities of generals. At Little Round Top, “Union commanders took crucial action beyond their formal responsibilities to turn the tide of the battle,” said Kanagy.

“We learned that when you’re new in a situation, you need to adapt quickly to what’s going on around you and act appropriately,” he added.

Participants are looking forward to putting what they’ve learned into action at the workplace. Said Steve Rasmussen, CEO/general manager at the co-op: “Our eyes were opened to the many valuable lessons that we can readily apply to today’s challenging management situations.

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