It is often said that simplicity is the hallmark of a genius. Strong leaders take complex concepts and boil them down to a simple statement or formula that provides the basis for understanding. Now I don’t pretend to be a genius, far from it, but I have found that there are four simple questions leaders need to ask.
1) Where are we going? The answer to this question lies in the organization's vision, mission, goals, and measurable objectives. Without these statements no one is sure where the organization is headed. We have witnessed numerous occasions where management and staff ran around in circles and operated with sheer frustration when they were unclear about the overall direction of the organization.
2) Who is doing what to get us there? Once the management team knows where the organization is going it is ready to work on designing an effective organizational structure. This includes detailing various roles, responsibilities, accountabilities, Job descriptions and specific work objectives to get the job done. With these in place, work is now structured to accomplish an end and everyone within the organization should know what to do and where they fit.
3) What are we doing today to make things happen? We will never get to our destination unless we make something happen. So clarifying daily, weekly and monthly tasks and priorities to accomplish the work is absolutely necessary. By keeping to task we make things happen.
4) Did we accomplish what we set out to do? The old dictum “you can’t improve unless you measure.” is true today as it was when it was first uttered. The leadership team requires relevant data to evaluate how well and how much was accomplished during the period under review. By keeping score and having the appropriate data it can answer the question: "Did we do what we said we were going to do?"
What to do: Before something runs amok in your organization ask: Do we know where we are going? Are we clear about who is doing what? Are we focused on achieving results on a regular basis? Do we have the tools in place to measure results?
Want to learn more? Mark Light has an interesting book entitled “The Strategic Board.” He fleshes out these four questions in greater detail from a board leadership perspective.
Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication." Leonardo daVinci
Author: Richard P. Fontanie, MSW. FCMC
Image from Fontanie Archives