We’ve worked with lots of organizations that seem to have a similar challenge. The leaders know the vision, but it’s disconnected from everyone’s daily life. The main point of connection for vision, mission, and values (VMV) is the annual “operating plan.” This is where the goals are laddered up to the strategic initiatives which connect to the VMV.
A vision statement represents an organization’s highest ambitions. It describes a future state and is inherently aspirational, creating a picture of what the organization wants to become. Whether it’s your personal life, your team or your organization, there are often disconnects in what we say we want to become and how we actually behave.
Disconnect #1 – Lack of repetition. Leaders share the vision once and then people don’t hear about it again. If it’s not repeatedly reviewed, discussed and focused on it will evaporate. The leaders of a high-tech company we’ve been working with expressed shock and dismay when they got feedback from their employees that they needed a clear vision. The one leader reminded the team of all the work they put into defining their vision and then realized that they told their employees about it once, over a year ago. A lot has happened between then and now!
Disconnect #2 – Lack of connection between work and vision. When we assess an organization’s culture, one of the first macro actions that is needed is to help each employee understand how what they do each day contributes to the vision of the organization. This is the responsibility of every leader or manager in the organization…connect the dots. Help people understand why their work matters.
Disconnect #3 – Satellites that never leave orbit. Ok, maybe that’s a bit abstract but we regularly observe leaders adding to the project/goals list without assessing the current load and lightening it. What we see is that they add and don’t subtract (hence the abstract reference to satellites). Leaders keep piling on more and more without adding resources (time or money). As a result, the list gets longer and less complete. Use the vision to reassess the entire portfolio of work. Be willing to let go of some projects or reevaluate goals.
Overcome these points of disconnection by regularly reviewing the vision, talking about how each person’s goals connect with the vision and not adding without evaluating against the vision.