Monday, January 18, 2010

Returning to Vision

THEME: New Year, More Challenges

FOCUS: Returning to Vision

Monday morning: January 18, 2010

Dear friends,

Not too long ago, she called me on a cold and snowy morning. “We are going though pretty drastic organizational change here. Due to the efforts of our management team, we are hoping to survive these tough times, bring in lots of new funding and move the company into new markets. We also want to bring more people to a higher level of accountability. It is a difficult place and several new folks are excited and our old guard is really resisting the changes. They do not want anyone telling them what to do. With more expected, we will all need to step up to get the work done.” She explained to me that she wanted me to do a full SWOT analysis, a mission statement redefinition process, at least one team building retreat, and a set of facilitated organizational meetings to reduce resistance.

I listened thoughtfully, and then suggested that she and I plus her management team sit down for a good visit. A couple of weeks later, we all gathered in their conference room. Most drank large cups of coffee and Coke while plowing through a massive a bowl of chocolate candy. I meanwhile drank a cup of herb tea. During this meeting, I listened with great interest and focus to the issues and problems at hand. They talked about ancient history, i.e. what happened ten years ago, numerous turf battles, performance issues, historic incidents of miscommunication, a general lack of trust, and a universal feeling of being overwhelmed by it all.

As I listened, I remembered Proverbs 29:18: “Where there is no vision, the people perish.” This particular management team had a bit of a vision but not one that was embraced by every one. Most felt it was just more work to be done and more difficult solutions to deliver.

So, during a break in the complaining, I reminded them of the importance of vision. Pointing out that a vision is a statement of what an organization hopes to achieve, I asked if they knew what the vision was moving forward. There was silence around the table. Then a couple of people said, “more sales and solutions,” “more markets”, and “more accountability.” We know from experience that the best companies and the best leaders along with their management teams have a clear sense of vision. It gives direction and meaning to the journey, and it creates inspiration which is necessary for the difficulties that come with organizational change.

With guidance and thoughtful reflection, this management team carefully and slowly shifted from the complaining mode of operation to the strategic mode of operation. We clarified the vision and discussed its impact. Once things were back in perspective, resistance was no long an issue and focus was possible.

This week work on vision. Define it, clarify it and communicate it. In a time period when we are feeling vulnerable to economic forces over which they have no control, it is good to have a vision that inspires us.

Enjoy the week,


Geery Howe, M.A.
Consultant, Executive Coach, Trainer in
Leadership, Strategic Planning and Organizational Change

Morning Star Associates
319 - 643 - 2257

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