What are your conversations about when you pull your key leadership team together?  Do you spend most of your time dreaming about where you’re going?  Or do you actually get down to brass tacks about how to get there?  Do you ever really talk about the essential commitments that will move you in that direction?  If you don’t…and if you don’t get to the place where you’re acting on those commitments…life in your organization will always have more in common with looking at a travel brochure than actually lounging in the tropical lagoon.

A recent find for me is David Maister’s blog.  In today’s post he’s got a great take on how to move from the language of destinations to action.  He tells us that:

"Whether you are talking about purpose, mission, vision, values,
goals, objectives or almost ANY of the traditional concepts that people
use, the only practical way to make it real is to do two (simultaneous)

(a) stop talking about the future destination, and start thinking about the rules you would have to live by in order to get there; and

(b) translate the generalities of the organization’s purpose, mission, values or principles into what it would mean for individuals and confirm that the organization’s members are, in fact, prepared to be held accountable and live by those individual rules.

Let me tell you my sense about most of our organizations.  We spend way too much time working out mission statements and way too little time doing what David Maister is talking about.  Consequently, we’ve got file folders full of travel brochures and very few memories of actually getting there.  What can be done?  Well, for starters we could move from the language of destination to action based on rules we’re prepared to live by.


The Downside of the Language of Destinations
  • Thanks Mark,
    Check Gabriella ORourke out on this too

  • Mark, this is really helpful.
    When I read “rules” my mind added “disciplines”. I suppose we could speak of both individual disciplines and team disciplines. Most every sports team I was part of utilized both to get us to the championships we desired.
    Thanks for adding a great conversation to the many out here.
    Keep creating,

  • Mike, you’re spot on. It is all about have a set of disciplines that are “just the way we operate around here.” Without them, we’re always going to be just dreaming.