What Makes an Organization Great?

Of all the factors that lead to greatness within an organization, one factor stands head and shoulders above the rest. That key factor is the organization’s mission.

When I travel around the country training leaders and discussing their organization’s mission, there is one question that I ask leaders to help clarify the importance of having a clear sense of their corporate mission.

And that question is this:

“Have you ever left your house for a vacation not  knowing where you were going,  but somehow arrived at the correct place, at the correct time, with everything in place?

Sometimes, someone will say “yes,” they did get to the right place, at the right time, with no planning, organization, or clear forethought. But they probably were not telling the truth. The truth is this: If you don’t know where you are going, you won’t know if you get there because you never identified where there was.

I always ask the groups I train, “by show of hands, how many of you work for an organization that has a written mission or vision statement?”

The percentage is usually ninety percent or more that say their organization does have a written mission or vision statement.

I then ask them, “What is it?”

Every now and then someone will hold up a card with their mission printed on it. But very rarely is a leader able to actually tell the group what their organizational mission is.


Deciding Factors

Every journey requires two factors that must be clearly defined: the “from and the to.” In other words, from where are we starting and to where are we going? When organizations and the individuals within those organizations know where they are going, then they have the roadmap they need to begin their journey of success.

Without this, they might as well be driving blind.

The need for a clearly stated and defined mission and a relentless focus on getting results is the same whether we are talking about a country, an organization, or an individual. Simply look throughout history for evidence of where a strongly stated and supported mission is at hand, an inevitability tends to follow.

Research has shown that people working toward a common cause that they believe in are tremendously effective. On the other hand, as John Maxwell says in his book, The 17 Indisputable Laws Of Teamwork, “no one person has ever done anything great by them self, there was always someone or many people supporting them enabling their accomplishment.”

In order for organizations or individuals to achieve great things, they must first determine what great things they would like to achieve. Without focusing on what you want and how you are going to get it, whether individual or organization, you won’t know what you’re going to get until your environment gives it to you. Unfortunately, you might find you don’t like what chance brings.

So what are you doing with your team to help them understand your team’s, your department’s, and your organization’s mission? Are you clearly stating where you are going, how you plan on getting there, and what it is going to take to get you there? What can you do this week to help clarify the mission your team is on? I would love to hear your thoughts!

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A. D. Roberts is President/CEO of A. D. Roberts Consulting, Inc. in North Augusta, SC
He helps with Leadership & Interpersonal Communication Consulting & Training

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Image Sources: isophetry.bardill.net, filene.org

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