Rising to the Challenge

12 May, 2021
Rise, Bohler's leadership development program

Turning Ambiguity Into Opportunities for Creativity

Rise, Bohler’s annual internal program for leadership development, is now in its third year and well on its way to equipping a new class of Risers to successfully transition into leadership roles within the company.

Risers recently participated in the Community Outreach Project, which has become one of the most anticipated elements of the Rise curriculum. Split into three groups, Risers were given $500, one hour, and the vague instruction to use the money for the greater good of the community.

The exercise challenges Risers to manage ambiguity and work through what to do when there are loose guidelines or minimal instructions. As Jenn O’Connor, Rise’s Program Manager, put it, “The intent is to put participants in a situation where they have questions but they’re unable to get answers. They have to quickly adapt and strategize how to move forward on their own. It’s also a reminder that an ambiguous assignment can be a great opportunity to be creative and own the product in a way you might not have with a very specific task.

The activity also fit into a broader lesson about holistic leadership. “Leadership is not just about you, and in the case of this challenge, how individuals wanted to spend the money. The exercise encourages group members to see how they fit into the bigger picture,” Jenn added.

[…] An ambiguous assignment can be a great opportunity to be creative and own the product in a way you might not have with a very specific task.


Approaching the Problem

With only an hour to see the project from initial brainstorming all the way through to completion, the groups quickly recognized time as a limiting factor. “Right away, we knew that we wouldn’t have time to dig in and do thorough research about organizations, so we knew we had to pick an organization that was tried and true,” Vishal Rai, a Riser from Albany, said.

The first step was to talk about what group members valued and what kind of organization they wanted to contribute to. Most of the groups looked to Bohler’s purpose and The Bohler Way for inspiration. Using Bohler’s values as a starting point, teammates branched off, bringing up related causes that were significant to them.

Building Consensus

Then, the teams had to look for common ground. “We looked for common themes between what everyone said and what they considered important,” Santiago Uribe, a Riser from Philadelphia, shared. For one group, that was getting more young students involved in STEM. For another, it was education in general and the current struggles of remote learning. The last group found commonality in sports and the accessibility of recreational activities.

Eventually, someone had to step up to make the decision. “People were suggesting different organizations, but they were hesitant to say we all should do what they suggest. We had to figure out how to overcome that so we could move forward with one we all agreed on,” said Andrew Haupin, a Mount Laurel, NJ Riser.

We had to figure out how to overcome [challenges] so we could move forward.


For Nate Fuss (Atlanta) and his group, building consensus simply came down to the charitable organization’s mission statement: “We read the mission statement, and it resonated with all of us. It connected to Bohler’s purpose and our desire to get kids outside, so it was an easy decision from there.”

Taking Action

In the end, the groups each donated $500 to organizations that will make a difference for kids in the communities where Bohler works. One group chose to support Donors Choose, an organization that allows donors to help fund a specific education initiative for a school, classroom, or teacher; the Rise group used their $500 to help fund STEM education programs in urban areas.

Nate and Vishal’s group chose the Boys & Girls Club of America, which works to help kids reach their potential with life-enhancing programs and caring mentors.

The last group supported Cradles to Crayons, which provides children age 12 and under with essential items for home and school for homeless and low-income students.

Lessons Learned

Through this exercise, the Risers learned valuable lessons about handling unclear instructions–a situation we’re all likely to encounter. For Andrew, the biggest takeaway was the importance of being confident in his decision making; to not be paralyzed by a lack of direction and to remain focused on how to move forward. “It was a practical lesson in thinking on your feet,” Santiago added. “You have to stay flexible and open-minded and make a decision on the spot.” For Hauppauge, NY’s Ragin Pace, the team interaction was crucial. “Being open to others’ ideas and recognizing that they may know more than you was an important lesson and was a big reason this exercise went smoothly for us,” she said.

Being open to others’ ideas […] was an important lesson.


On top of that, Risers had an opportunity to positively impact our communities. “I hadn’t done anything like this [challenge] before. There are so many great organizations out there and it’s incredibly easy to support them,” Andrew shared.

Through the Rise curriculum and the Community Outreach Project in particular, Risers are challenged to think differently and become more holistic leaders in the future.

About Rise

Rise, Bohler’s Leadership Development Program for high potential employees, is one way we empower the ambitious to become the accomplished. A 10-month development program, Rise provides advanced technical, leadership, and project management training to provide future leaders with the tools needed to successfully transition into leadership roles. Learn more about Bohler’s focus on learning and development.

Stay in the Know

Get our insights and latest news straight to your inbox.

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.