Creating a Culture of Clarity

If you have already read our article describing the Performance Pyramid, you know that at the pinnacle of the pyramid, we acknowledge the obvious, but usually not well executed, need for leadership to set a clear direction for the people to pursue. This means defining the organization through its purpose/vision/values, along with its differentiated value-offer, so we are able to intelligently establish, and profitably execute, a plan to effect some change in the world.

The Performance Pyramid

Figure 1.

As the Cheshire Cat observed to Alice: “If you don’t know where you are going, then any road will do.” Translating that astute quip into business parlance yields the question: Without a clear purpose and crystallized values, how can we possibly determine what kind of people are needed, what they should do and how they should do it? Only when we know what we want to accomplish can we determine what competencies are needed by the organization. (Refer to our People-powered Performance™ model for unique insight into understanding competencies.)

While establishing a purpose does set the organizational stage, it does not ensure a play will ever be successfully performed (although a great deal of drama may be generated). The vision can’t be reached without mapping an effective route to get there and then following the route – at least until unforeseen roadblocks occur. At that point, we must be knowledgeable enough, and agile enough, to make the necessary course corrections.

While knowledge is critical, success is not about what you know, it’s about what you do. Our Strategic Performance Line of Sight™ successfully takes your leadership team from validation of the organizational purpose and vision to an executable, customer-driven plan with issues/obstacles identified, strategies determined, roles and responsibilities clarified, meaningful metrics developed, resources identified etc.

Figure 2 represents an overview of our Strategic Performance Line of Sight™. Take a look at it and ask yourself which of the steps is currently giving you the most intense headache.

Strategic Performance Line of Sight

Figure 2.

When discussing our Line of Sight with executives, we are often told that mission, vision and values have already been created so we can skip that part. We are further advised that the tough issues reside in having the right metrics and clearly defined roles and responsibilities. In other words, the culprit is accountability. Lack of accountability equals failure to deliver.

Our response is that mission, vision and values are so fundamental to setting a clear direction, which is a primary responsibility of the leadership team, that it would be prudent to review them just to be sure everyone is on the same page. Then, we get into the Strategic Planning Workshop where the leadership team often discovers that they are not on the same page. In fact, no one is able to really articulate what the mission, vision and values are – but they can report that a detailed 8½ by 11 sheet of company letterhead is posted on the wall in the reception area and ask if I “would like to have a copy brought over”?

To reiterate the initial point: how can a leader acquire and align the right resources, establish pertinent metrics, and define roles and responsibilities, if a clear destination hasn’t been determined? Is it any wonder that lack of adequate accountability is so frequently identified as an issue? No clearly defined destination – then any road will do! And often different roads are chosen by different people in different departments so as to best be positioned to pass the buck to another person or department. High performance organizations don’t have hidden agendas, don’t send mixed messages and don’t lack transparency. They are about clarity.

The Strategic Performance Line of Sight is the blueprint to build a culture of clarity.