Think about the teams you have operating right now.  Who makes the decisions about where things are going?  What is the SHAPE of that person?  More to the point…are your teams led by a vision/ideas person?  Or are they really led by a details/numbers person?  Do you know that teams led by a vision/ideas person end up in a different place than a details/numbers led team?  You may need to test what I’m saying to see if it’s true, but believe me…it is true.  The question is, why do they end up in different places?

First, the thinking of a vision/ideas person isn’t constrained by black/white possibilities.  They’re much more adept at thinking a seeing gray, as Steven Sample talks about in The Contrarian Leader.  Direction determined by what appears possible or seems affordable almost always sets an artifical limit on what can happen.

Second, preoccupation with details and numbers in the earliest moments of the project can permanently alter the trajectory of the project.  For the team to end up where it could the earliest discussions should be guided by vision and ideas that are detail free.  In fact, on the visioning team there may need to be a virtual gag order on the detail/numbers members of the team.  Dan Southerland of Church Transitions points out that in their own successful transitioning of Flamingo Road Church from a very traditional to a purpose-driven church they discovered that details and numbers inserted too early into the discussion was keeping them from getting to where they needed to go.  Their solution?  They added a squirt gun to the table and used it to hose down the person that too quickly rained down details or numbers that influenced what was possible.  I love it!  And I’m heading out to pick up a Super Soaker!

For more on the idea, check out Behaviors that prevent change.  A great book on this topic is The Heart of Change by John Kotter.

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Who Leads Your Teams?