Sunday, April 22, 2018

Is Your Corporate Vision Just a Vision?

Today’s corporations are under enormous pressure to adjust structure, processes and even culture to address a critical problem or be ready for a fleeting opening for innovation.  They are constantly striving to reinvent themselves in a rapidly evolving world, creating products and services for an increasingly demanding public.

Effective leaders inspire and encourage a common purpose, a vision for their company their employees can incorporate into their personal value proposition and take to heart.   They communicate and lead from a vision that their employees can stand behind.  Plans are created and published, and employees are given trinkets and T-shirts to commemorate this vision – and are put on a shelf at their desk as they go about their everyday tasks and responsibilities. Consulting firms have been paid millions of dollars to lay out brilliant strategic plans that never get carried out. 

Why does this happen?  What keeps our corporations stuck and unable to make more than a miniscule effort toward moving in the direction of something they are deeply committed to?  Often the responsibility or blame for no effective change is handed off to circumstances, time and people, and most often a “lack of courage in senior management”.  The reality is that change is most often stymied by other commitments that are held by the people who are implementing the change.  Those commitments may be for self-preservation, and could be the critical piece of the puzzle that keeps being missed in change initiatives all over the country. 

Let me give you an example:  Many corporations are committed to changing the corporate structure in order to flatten the organization and give more authority and responsibility to all employees.  This sounds like a tremendous opportunity for many people to step into leadership and shine.  But, what if the leaders of the organization still thrive on being in control or insisting that things be done their way, even when it isn’t the most efficient way to accomplish the task?  What if the leaders are committed to holding on to their power?  Can you imagine the conflict that will occur as they begin to implement the change? 

This contradiction is a wonderful source of challenge – if we are willing.  It is a challenge that requires us to change our minds, to acknowledge that we have competing commitments, and to identify the source of that behavior.  When we take the time to identify the other commitments that are being held that stop change in its tracks, we also begin to take the initial step toward real and lasting change.  In the example above, the next right step toward implementing change is in identifying the assumptions that are held by the organization (or individual leaders) about what will happen if the reins of control are loosened.  What will happen if employees devise ways of completing a task where the outcome is the same as before (for quality purposes), but the path to getting there is different and perhaps more efficient.   What will happen if the leaders give up some of their power.

As a leader, the alternative to the status quo is to approach a reinvention under the premise that it will be impossible for you to bring about change without an equal change in yourself and other leaders and associates of the organization. 

Are you willing to look deeper to identify the commitments you, other leaders and your corporate culture hold that keep you from implementing the corporate vision?

Georgia Feiste, President of Collaborative Transitions Coaching, Inc., located in Lincoln, NE, is a personal growth and leadership coach, writer, and workshop facilitator.  She is also a Usui Reiki Master and EFT practitioner.  Her passion is success grounded in purpose and passion, standards of integrity and priorities in life.  You can also find Georgia on her website, Collaborative Transitions, Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook.   Georgia may also be reached at (402) 304-1902 if you wish to schedule a 30 minute complementary consultation.

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4 Responses to “Is Your Corporate Vision Just a Vision?”
  1. Ruth Garrett says:

    Georgia makes some really salient points. In my experience of organizational change work I’ve found that Senior Management Teams often think that increased productivity and targets can be achieved through the revamping of organizational structures. For many this is the safest route but not always the most effective.
    However, in some cases it’s the culture(s) within the organization that may be limiting its effectiveness. Looking at the way organization ‘does things around here’ – that is the difference between what they say their beliefs and values are and how they manifest at an operational level – may be something the Senior Management Team may want to look at before restructuring yet again.

    To be a highly functioning organization there needs to be congruency between the beliefs and values of the individuals working in the organization and their behaviour.

    There also needs to be alignment between the beliefs and values embedded within the culture of the organization and each employee’s beliefs and values (of course you’re never going to get 100% alignment).

    Then the systems, processes and procedures of the organization need to align to its espoused values and bliefs, that is the systems need to support what the organization is saying that they are all about.

    Maybe it isn’t a case of restructuring but realigning.

    • Georgia says:

      Ruth – I couldn’t agree more. Sometimes I think restructuring or re-engineering is used as a panacea to what really could be an alignment issue. Process vs. people…. sounds like another topic to explore to me. Thanks for dropping in. I look forward to continuing conversations.

  2. Bill Knegendorf says:

    Georgia, every corporate consulting firm is thanking you for shining the light of day into this black box. They tell corporations that only an outsider can “objectively” evaluate the culture and organization. Ruth also hits a home run with the fact that insiders have a hard time recognizing misalignment in the organization. Additionally, from my experience attending hundreds of Board of Directors meetings in many corporations, perhaps a major reason that problems like these two even exist in the organization is a key assumption by senior management: If we say it, they will get it. Another way to express the same thought is “Too much tellin’ and not enough sellin'”. I have heard a CEO say, We don’t need a plan for internal marketing of our master plan since the futures of the lower level officers depend on achieving the goal we decide on. They’ll get it done.” So then lower level employees hear WHAT the organization must achieve, but they can not emotionally connect with WHY it is being done since their information is coming from someone being pressured to “get it done”. If your face-to-face customer relationship people are not enthusiastically connected to achieving the goal, it will show. The lack of engagement by some will be reflected by others until a widespread ho-hum attitude evolves from the Why/Why Not information void. If the corporation doesn’t have the time and resources to explain to the whole organization WHY doing their part to achieve the goal is good for them personally (internal marketing), the employees will be trying to solve a personal “Why To” problem with the corporate “How To” answers.

    • Georgia says:

      Bill – Thank you for responding! I couldn’t agree with you more. I particularly like your statement “If the corporation doesn’t have the time and resources to explain to the whole organization WHY doing their part to achieve the goal is good for them personally (internal marketing), the employees will be trying to solve a personal “Why To” problem with the corporate “How To” ” answers. Very succinctly put!