Monday, April 20, 2009

Promising the Dawn

I believe that Einstein got it right when he said that “vision without execution is hallucination”. Fundamentally, leadership is about translating vision into workplace reality with the execution capacity to make something happen. That “something”, is the creation of a value proposition linking, and holding in trust, the interests of all stakeholders of the enterprise – owners, investors, management, customers and employees. When the “line of sight” of each is common and focused on mutually beneficial means and ends, the enterprise flourishes.

Deming in my belief was also right when, in one of his 12 points, he stated that organizations need to “drive out fear.” Organizational fear can manifest itself in the most fundamental sense – concern for sustainability – of employment or the business itself. It can also be seen as doubt, doubt that the value proposition I mentioned earlier is important, or doubt that it exists at all. It is a doubt that drives anyone or any part of an enterprise to question their value and place in the grander scheme of things.

What I hold as important, and what I strive to do, is to foster environments where all organizational interests are held in trust and are linked to a common goal of mutual benefit. I believe this is only done by the creation of a vision and mission, supported by strategy and tactics, that “command assent” in their singular clarity. And what would this assent, and the execution behind it lead to – simply, but powerfully – innovation, the acceleration of business growth and sustained profitability, a conscience and bias to community and social well-being, and a workplace populated with hearts and minds whose spirits are not constrained by work, but rather, are empowered and nurtured from it.

The author Herbert Lieberman concludes a novel with the notion, in my paraphrase, that we are all very much like our ancestors, huddled together around a fire, braced against the cold and dark, waiting for a dawn that scarcely promises to come. In organizational terms, fulfilling the promise of this dawn’s coming is realized when capacity and capabilities are aligned to the purpose of benefit for all participants in the enterprise.

May we each in our own way, roles or responsibilities contribute to the light of that dawn.