1. The Purpose and the Rules -- Defining the Game
Do we know what we’re really about -- why we’re doing what we’re doing? Is it clear to us when something is off-purpose? What do we really do? We provide. . . . We deliver. . . . We contribute. . . . We assist in. . . . We produce. . . . (Fill in the blanks.)
For effective leaders, the value of this kind of focus should be a given. Purpose defines the direction and meaning of the enterprise. Organizations don’t often change their basic purpose, but at times it needs to be reunderstood at new levels. A "drill-bit" company won’t get into lasers, but a "hole-production" company could.
Of equal importance as a criterion for decision making is the set of rules we agree to play by -- our standards. Whereas purpose gives us direction, values and principles lay out not how we get there but how we play along the way. We define what behavior works and what doesn’t. How do we act when we are at our best? What is critical to us in everything that we do?
When our people really know the purpose of the enterprise and have committed to the critical rules of engagement, we can trust them to make important decisions intelligently, as needed, without unproductive bureaucratic procedures. If we’re not sure that our people know what we’re doing or we have doubts about their behaviors in the process, we cannot let go, and we will be pulled down into a level of detail likely to misappropriate our attention.
Where could a discussion of "Why we are doing what we’re doing here?" be used right now in your world to good effect? With whom would it be wise to have more clarity and agreement about critical behaviors to assure success? Strong leaders are willing to initiate these slightly uncomfortable conversations on the front end, to prevent potentially disastrous ones from happening later on.