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Passion, People and Principles

What’s Our Deal?

post # 365 — April 26, 2007 — a Strategy post

I have a new article on my website called “What’s Our Deal?” It’s about “doing strategy” and it begins:

“At a recent conference, I heard a number of successful firm leaders describe how their firms had achieved significant growth and profitability. A common phrase used by each and every one of these firm leaders was “making sure that all the key people were ‘on the same page.’”

Clearly, it was important that something was agreed to and shared among the members of these firms. But what? What does “being on the same page” really mean? And how is it done?”

To find out my views, you can read the article.

But what are YOUR views?


Gabriella ORourke said:

As ever David, I find your arguments very lucid and compelling. You make a wonderful case for a principles-led organisation, with several very quotable statements (“The practical test…whether people inside the organisation believe all decisions are made on the basis of mission or purpose”; “You cannot get people to dedicate themselves to a cause if you stick to it only ocassionally”; “are people willing to have all actions, decisions large and small…judged in accordance with the mission or purpose?”)

You ask what we think being ‘on the same page’ means and I would contribute the idea of a clear and explicitly defined shared language to embody the principles. In highly advanced societies, ways of thinking (and hence being) are expressed through language. If we wish to influence the cultural and social norms of the organisation then we must be uncompromising about the language we use and accept. Although often trivialised, semantics are important. Words can very clearly embody the principles for which we strive, and can equally pervert the cause. If you consider the origin of words such as member, participant, partner, contributor, employee, leader, manager, supervisor etc. each of them embodies very different ways of operating and expectations of behaviour.

posted on April 26, 2007

peter vajda said:

I appreciate and enjoyed reading your article, David. Thanks for that. You ask, “If you were a real-world CEO or managing partner trying to lead your organization, where would you begin to grapple with these concepts?”

For me, the crux of the issue/response depends largely on how one defines “real world.”

I hear so much today epithets like, “Yeah, that would be nice, but in the real world…” which, in my experience, is more of an “excuse” NOT to commit to aspects like mission, purpose, stewardship, and most of all, values, and to take all the left turns and right turns necessary to “do what we have to do” to make/save a buck in some way, shape or form in the “real world.”

I’ve said before, in response to one of your earlier posts here, that, for me, values is the thread/glue that connects/binds the other integrating concepts. Ask folks (from the 53rd floor on down) what’s important to them, what garners their commitment, their motivation, their passion, their energy, their engagement and what doesn’t, and then it becomes clear how folks most often will react and respond vis-a-vis their relationship to work, to the workplace, to the principles, processes, procedures, and to those they are in relationship with at work…or not. Determines whether the “same page” is crisp, clean, legible, or torn, dog-eared, chewed-up, illegible, even torn out and missing

You write, “As always, this is meant to be a pragmatic point, not a moral or aesthetic one. It used to be said that your culture was what people did when no-one was looking. That’s not a bad way of summarizing all this.”

Well, and this is just me, I see all of this as a “spiritual” (read: not “religious”) issue. It starts with values. Values drive motives, thoughts, behaviors, and mission, purpose and all the other statements that fill the manuals and line the walls.

You write, ” Once the decision-making rules are in place, it should be easier to trace through the “rights and obligations” that members of the organization have: what they agree to sign up for when they join, what they agree to be held accountable for, and what they can reliably expect from the organization (and other individuals in the organization.)”

Again, for me, based on what they value.

I believe being on the same page, from creating valued mission purpose statements, to committing to decision-making rules, has merit and currency, and really, really works, only if and when folks first choose to come from their personal and corporate heart/soul (i.e., their values) in terms of how they define their world of work. From this place, the ink on the page doesn’t smudge so easily.

But, then again, in the “real world…” Hmmm.

posted on April 26, 2007