As part of our work with The Crossroad, we get to spend a lot of time with a lot of different organizations. We have been with teams big and small, in all corners of the United States and even some overseas. And our experience has allowed us to see one glaring danger that threatens all organizations.
The danger of a split vision.
All of the organizations we work with want to do their work more effectively. Whether it is business or ministry, they all want to be better. Or at least they want to want to be better.
The struggle is what comes next. What exactly does “better” mean?
Ships in the Night
It is amazing that a group of people can occupy the same space, have the same mission statement on a brochure, and attend myriad meetings together, yet have a split vision that fractures their organization.
Some members of an organization define “better” as “doing things more the way I want them done”. Sometimes they mean, “Having people recognize my greatness and celebrate it”. The idea of doing things well has been hijacked. We mean something completely different by it.
And so, the vision of one member leads one way and the vision of another in a different direction. The result is a split vision and a fractured organization.
We are all in the same meeting, all speaking the same language, yet we hear different things. Why? Because each of us is hearing things through the filter of our vision. When we hear words like “success” or “accountability”, we hear them differently depending on what our goal is. If our goal is the celebration of me, we will define “success” as anything I get communal credit for and “accountability” as calling others out when they undermine what I am trying to do.
Since everyone has their own private version of this, the result is confusion, chaos, and varying degrees of dysfunction.
A deep fissure
Just like in engineering, the deeper the fracture, the greater the impact. And there is nothing deeper than the mission of the organization. A divided idea of what that looks like is a crack in the foundation. Not easily repaired and potentially catastrophic to the well being of the enterprise. A bad combination.
Surprisingly, we have found that a lot of organizations can sense this fissure building. They may call it a “toxic culture” or inefficiency or something else. But they can sense all is not well. Or not optimal, at the very least. But when we show up with the hard work of what it takes to come together, people are generally pretty hesitant. It is not that they don’t genuinely want to be better; they just don’t realize how much work it takes to do so. And how much is going to fall on each of them.
The work of unifying around a clear and true vision for an organization is vital to its survival. Without the difficult, sometimes painful, conversations about what we are really doing together and why, we will continue to do things unaware, according to superficial appetites. All the while, assuming the people we share in business or marriage with want exactly what we want, exactly as we want it. Or that they are wrong.
A unified vision is like an unclogged artery. It makes everything work smoother, the way it should be. And it just might save your organization from disaster.