In Blog #1095, I wrote about the plethora of special weather statements.  We received another such alert yesterday.  It read: “Windy conditions and rain mixed with graupel this afternoon.”  

Graupel?  What the heck is graupel? The Washington Post called it “the wintry precipitation you’ve never heard of.”

It turns out that graupel is formed when snow starts high in the atmosphere, but then melts. Graupel is “snow pellets that form when supercooled droplets of water are collected and freeze on a falling snowflake.*” It comes to the ground as “soft hail.”

I think graupel can be a metaphor for organizational culture.  What influences an institution’s culture is happening beyond the cloud cover, and is different than what presents itself in everyday life.  If leaders aren’t paying attention to the conditions high up in the atmosphere, they may miss cues that the situation is worse than the morale they see everyday.  Warning signs could be there that the rain will become snow or hail, but those only looking out the window may be oblivious to it.

It may sound counter intuitive, but like the meteorologists, leaders need to pay attention to the unseen.  Use your instruments to examine what is in the clouds before your graupel becomes hail or your culture experiences a storm.

— beth triplett

Blog #1095 “alert” June 1, 2015

Graupel: The wintry precipitation you’ve never heard of by Don Lipman, Washington Post, December 5, 2014

*Wikipedia: Graupel

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