Forget Vision, Coherence and Direction Matter More

In this engaging post, Greg Satell talks about the evolving role of leadership. Facing moribund or dysfunctional organizations, leaders confront the challenge of adaptation. Unless the organization transforms, it will likely die. But how do leaders change direction and establish new, shared values? How do you open the door to new possibilities?

In my experience, a convenient place to start is with new stories, a new set of narratives to provide coherence and direction.

It’s actually easier than it sounds. William Gibson, a cyber punk writer, famously told us that the future is already here; it’s just not evenly distributed.

In most organizations and communities, there are already people who can point to promising directions of adaptation and growth. The role of the leader often involves finding these people, highlighting their stories, and drawing out the implications for the organization.

The leader connects people into more coherent, more valuable patterns. In other words, the job the leader is to find these pattens, provide coherence, and define a sense of direction.

Forget vision statements. Stories work better to emotionally engage people.

Ed Morrison is Director of the Purdue Agile Strategy Lab. He is also an adjunct professor at the University of the Sunshine Coast in Queensland, Australia. For the past five or six years, he has been developing new, agile approaches to strategy in open, loosely joined networks, a discipline he calls Strategic Doing. Prior to starting his economic development work, Ed worked for Telesis, a corporate strategy consulting firm. In this position, he served on consulting teams for clients such as Ford Motor Company, Volvo, and General Electric. He conducted manufacturing cost studies in the U.S., Japan, Mexico, Canada, Italy, Sweden, and France. Ed started his professional career in Washington, D.C., where he has served as a legislative assistant to an Ohio Congressman, staff attorney in the Federal Trade Commission, and staff counsel in the US Senate. He holds a BA degree cum laude with honors from Yale University and MBA and JD degrees from the University of Virginia.

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