DR. MARTIN LUTHER KING AND STRATEGIC VISION

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Strategic Vision: By definition it could be a statement articulating an approach to an organization’s future direction and basic philosophical makeup. It is an aspirational, forward-looking statement of what an organization will look like at a point in time in the future.

Half a century ago this nation was experiencing a movement that began likea ripple in a pond. That ripple began to grow and swell into something many people could never have imagined. Soon it became a tsunami that overwhelmed and blanketed the country in change. At the forefront of that change were many Americans who envisioned a new national reality. One where ALL Americans would feel and BELIEVE that they were living in an indivisible union known as The United States of America. Of all the voices heard, there evolved one whose words and actions rang true to the basic tenets of our Constitution and our Declaration of Independence—The Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King.

Through the decade of the 60’s, Dr. King and many others were the visionary leaders who attempted to develop and begin the execution of a strategic plan. Depending on who, or what, you read, strategic planning elements may be presented differently. There are certain elements that should always be present: STRATEGIC VISION, MISSION, and GOALS. Fundamentally, without a clearly articulated “Vision” the planning process is doomed to failure. The “Mission” and the “Goals” will likely be as vague as the weak “Vision Statement.”

The “Vision” evolves and develops from “Core Values” describing:

  • Who we are
  • What we stand for
  • Guide us in making decisions
  • Underpin the whole organization
  • Require no external justification

The “Vision” should be uplifting, it should empower the target audience, and it should be feasible and achievable. Given the vagaries and realities of life, however, the Vision must be somewhat flexible while still being true to its origins.

With these landmarks, I recommend the following to your review: Martin Luther King’s “I Have a Dream Speech” delivered August 23, 1963. While I have read the text and heard the words so many times over the last 50 years, I chose to review it again. It is not a brief “Vision Statement.” It is an explanation of the “Strategic Vision” that we, as a nation, should, and must, embrace if we are to ever fully realize the potential offered by our great and diverse populace.

All of us, as leaders, should review the speech and consider what we might do to maintain the Vision. This link will take you to the full text of Dr. King’s speech.

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Gary Steele is a retired colonel and current senior consultant for Learning Dynamic. He has over thirty years of extensive national and international human resources experience as a leader, problem solver, and project manager, stemming from the  military, education, and pharmaceutical industry sectors.

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Three Steps to Leading Effective Teams

Picture this: your boss is on a “teams” kick.  It seems as though everyone in the organization has been scheduled for surgery to conjoin hips. For awhile, the staff wonders, “why didn’t we do this before?” But then reality sets in: dysfunctional conflict erupts, goals are not being met, members “miss” meetings, and people yearn for the days when decisions could be made without having to run everything by “the committee”…

Two relevant articles on “Teams” and “Strategic Foresight” recently appeared in the Diamond 6 newsletter; I hope you read both. A primary reason organizations fail to unlock the potential of the people in the organization is because those who should be leading see the latest “fad” and without strategic foresight, attempt to employ the latest craze assuming all will be well. Too many of those who should be leaders take a stab at doing something, anything!, to make the organization more effective; teams are a common approach.  But teams are not a panacea – they are one of many tools leaders can employ to improve operations, if employed appropriately. Here’s a “prescription” that should accomplish multiple goals, including reducing the “burnout” felt by the people in your teams:

  • Adopt a “continuous improvement” mindset – no organization is perfect, but that shouldn’t keep us from pursuing perfection.
  • Become a “learning organization” – one of the key tenets we promote in our quest to help unlock the potential of people in organizations is the understanding that as humans, we are prone to make mistakes. When a mishap occurs, too many bosses jump to the “punishment” phase without carefully exploring why the mistake took place. Many of these problems involve organizational constraints or failures to adequately train and equip those whom we have tasked to accomplish our mission.
  • Employ the proper techniques to meet the needs of your situation – “teams” is one of these. When used properly, teams can spark an explosion in productivity.  The first concern: how will you know you have truly employed a team?

During my initial foray into the workings of an organization I usually find “groups”, not “teams”. The difference in results is stark.  Although there are numerous distinctions that can be argued, two primary items required for teams to be functional (and avoid collaboration burnout!) are accountability and effectiveness. We all know that what gets measured gets done. Using metrics to establish your goals and serve as your “yardstick” is only a starting point.  Although objective items are easier to measure (e.g., increased sales), subjective measures must also be employed (e.g., how well is the team “working”?). To grow, team members must be open to ideas for improvement. An essential item is the one most of us abhor: the fear of receiving feedback that is anything but complimentary. It can be virtually paralyzing in an environment that lacks trust.  Employing the 3 steps outlined above is a good starting point to establishing trust. Add in a strong measure of respect – for and from each member of the organization. It will go a long way toward building an environment within which teams can thrive. An example of respect is the right of refusal – an incredibly important topic we will explore in a future article where we will also discuss additional ways to avoid “burnout”.

The initial keys: ensure you have taken the time to develop your Strategic Foresight; communicate that vision to the people in your organization; employ the 3 tenets of an effective organization (i.e., focus on continuous improvement, become a learning organization, and employ the proper tools to meet the needs of the organization); establish an environment of trust and respect for all members of the organization; reap the rewards; and celebrate victories. If we show people the fruits of their labors and the effect their efforts have on the organization, they will be more likely to “move on” to the next target with vigor and a desire to accomplish even the most difficult mission.

People who are challenged and rewarded will be glad to take a break at the end of the week but will also look forward to showing up on Monday…make that a goal.

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Ken Pasch is President of the leader development company Ki (pronounced “key”) Visions and author of “Become the Boss You Always Wanted”.  Ki Visions and Diamond 6 work collaboratively.  The full Ki Visions lineup includes: coaching, consulting, keynotes, and training.  Ken also teaches at the Smeal College of Business at Penn State.  Ken’s primary purpose: helping good people…become great leaders!
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