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We have a Mission and a Vision … Why? Oh Why? Isn’t Anything Getting Done?

We have a Mission and a Vision. Now What?

I recently had lunch with a client, and we were talking through what he described as a dysfunctional leadership team. He had been on the team a short while and was already frustrated with the bickering and polarized camps.

The company had a clearly articulated mission and vision. It had a very mature business plan and a large, capable, employee complement. Still, there was a problem.

There seemed to be a gap between the organization’s mission, vision, and the day-to-day business of the company. In my opinion, that was the problem. The leadership team did not have tangible, practical objectives.

When I was with the Red Cross, we had been involved with the recovery of a plane crash. A small plane crashed through the ice of Lake Erie killing all aboard. The Ontario Provincial Police were the lead agency, and the inspector in charge had taken the time to write: “Objective: recover the casualties and investigate the cause of the crash and at all times treat the families of the victims with the utmost respect and dignity” on a whiteboard in the operations centre.  It was the operation’s mission statement.

That simple, yet profoundly important, sentence written on the wall of a fire hall ensured that we checked our egos at the door and focused on one practical objective.

My prospective client’s problems were not as dire as a plane crash, but without mutually agreed upon objectives, egos and personal biases take over – to the detriment of the mission and vision.

This Post Has 2 Comments

  1. Jim Stirling

    Steve! Jim here. I just got myself a contract, working as an engineering advisor to the CEO of a small, growing oil company whose operation is outside N. America.

    The engineering issues I am seeing appear to be a symptom of executive management egos and biases causing three teams – asset management, development and operations to be mis-aligned and so less productive. I’ve only been here 2 1/2 weeks, and I’m trying to keep my ego and bias in check, so being very tentative in my assessment at this stage. Therefore, gathering ideas for engineering performance improvement, so as to bring those to attention of the management. Who all report to the CEO, that I have a solid line report to. So you can imagine that I am in a “people sensitive” position, gently probing the leaders in order to understand without making enemies. Although the CEO has told me to challenge the status-quo, I have to take care to build trust, while ensuring respect for my role.

    Q; any advice?

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