This is the first of three posts covering the 3 keys of a healthy organization. I want to break this large concept into two major pieces, and then each of those pieces into questions. That may sound a bit odd right now, but I think it will make sense once we get there. It's just one of countless ways to break down this concept to understand it better.
The two major pieces are vision and framework. Let's break them down.
In my opinion, the best characteristic of this word is that it is largely self-defining, at least for the context of organizational vision. Vision is, quite literally, an image. Vision is concrete, not abstract. It's not an idea. It's a picture created from an idea. You don't have a vision until you have an image, even if it's a mental one. But a vision of what? As a matter of fact, a vision answers two questions, and what happens to be the first.
More specifically, what is the goal? I'm not talking about annual goals. I'm talking about the goal, that if you could magically accomplish, there would be no reason to continue working. It's the singular purpose of existence for the organization. Another way to ask the question is What is our future story? The vision of an organization needs to answer that question. The more specifically it answers the question, the more likely you are to write that story (as opposed to a different, less desirable one).
The why is the abstract part of vision. Unfortunately, this is sometimes the only question that's answered with organizational visions. Your vision needs to answer the question Why are we doing this? This needs to be abstract, an idea. What concept, moral, idea, dream, even emotion is the ongoing catalyst for your organization? Everyone in your organization needs to know, and ideally share that why.
Once you have a vision that answers what and why, there's only one thing left to do: share it! As a leader, your greatest effort should be in sharing your vision as clearly and consistently as possible, so that people can understand what story you're writing, and whether or not they want to be part of it. How you go about sharing your vision can take many forms, which brings us to the second half of organizational strategy.
This is the nitty gritty, the parameters that will bridge the gap between an image of the future and the current real world. It's a scaffolding on which to climb from here to there. Your framework consists of answers to four questions:
What kind of people are in your future image? Are they adventurous? Eccentric? Highly creative? Maybe they're deeply relational, or religious, or scientific. Find some words (and write them down somewhere!) that describe the ideal who of your organization, then use that as a guiding force when hiring and developing your culture. This isn't about diversity (or a lack of it); it's about creating a style for your organizational, which in turn becomes synergy.
2 & 3. When & Where
At first glance I thought these were relatively insignificant, but that was my misunderstanding. Don't let it be yours, too. They are small, but not insignificant. Instead of answering the question When and where will our organization work?, we need to ask When and where are we in our story? Answering that question will inform the previous question, and will also enhance the overall purpose.
This is the manner and means of accomplishing your organizational goals (and ultimately your vision). The manner is the style in which you will function. It's the character of your organization. The means are the actions you take, or would be willing to take, as a, well, means to an end. In a nutshell, your how is your answer to the question What will be our style of functioning? As with each of these questions, the more specifically you answer What is our style, the more apt you will be to create and adhere to that style.
When answering these questions for yourself or your organization, remember it's equally important to consider what is not part of your answer. The more focused your organizational strategy is, the more powerful it will be, like a laser. A typical laser and a typical light bulb actually create similar amounts of light. The laser is more intense because all of it's light is focused to one spot. The laser is not spreading its light anywhere except on a highly specific target. If you want intensity in your organization, create focus in your organizational strategy.
What are your thoughts? Do you think your organizational strategy fits this structure?