Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Leading and Achieving Organizational Transformation (Part 2/4): Shared Vision

(Part 2 of a 4 part series on leading and achieving organizational transformation)

In the previous part of this series, organizational transformation was described as one of the most challenging tasks for a leader to undertake.  In order to accomplish this endeavor, it was discussed that organizational leaders must focus on specific efforts that together create the required drive and effectiveness at every level of the workforce.  These efforts are: 
1) strong communication utilizing frames (Part 1)
2) creating a shared vision (Part 2)
3) leveraging high-performing teams (Part 3)
4) shifting to a systems perspective (Part 4)

This series now continues with an argument for why creating a shared vision is valuable and why it is an important part of organizational transformation.

Shared Vision

A singular vision, instead of a shared vision, that represents the ideas of one person or just a few people instead of the organization as a whole will be much harder to achieve because attaining organization-wide buy-in will be much more challenging.  This method would require the parts of the organization that are not appropriately represented to abandon their thoughts and ideas about where the organization should go from their perspective and conform to these new ideas that may represent no net positive effect or in a worse case, an undermining of what their own goals and objectives are.  A shared vision would eliminate this uphill battle, but it is likely to add time to the process.  This time, if well spent, will provide immense value, as well as timesaving in later processes.  The building of a shared vision takes concerted effort because it combines the various goals and objectives that exist throughout the organization at the “tactical” level into a common vision that the whole organization understands, believes in, and trusts.  An organizationally representative “strategic” vision will result in more effective organization-wide mission accomplishment1.

For an organization to grasp on to a transformation initiative, they must feel like the cost of the status quo is much higher than the cost associated with organizational change.  In order for the organization writ large to make this leap, the arguments being made for transformation must include the beliefs, perspectives, ideas, and motivations of the whole workforce.  If it does not, there will be pockets of resistance that feel that they are underrepresented and this could potentially lead to further leadership challenges as the transformation continues.  These arguments represent a shared vision, meaning a compilation of the different visions by both senior and mid-level leadership spread throughout the organization.  This compilation of ideas for moving the organization forward is critical because there is an inherent give and take between senior leaders and the rest of the organization in which all parties must feel like their own divisional or departmental needs are being met, the organization’s needs are being met, and without too significant of a downside or sacrifice required2.  This level of balance and coordination is only possible if a shared vision is valued and sought out, vice a vision that is limited to only enhancing the organizational situation for those in senior leadership positions.

Image: http://hplinc.com/wp-content/uploads/iStock_000011073938XSmall-300x225.jpg
1 Muller, H. (2011). The transformational CIO: Leadership and innovation strategies for IT executives in a rapidly changing world. Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons, Inc.
2 Sanda, M. (2011). Leadership and 'tipping' in workplace transformation: A critical review. International Journal of Business and Social Science, 2(5).

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