Friday, October 30, 2009

Aligning Our Work Behind Our Vision

I am currently in Tucson, Arizona with my business partner Gail Meltzer, CFRE. We have just finished an incredible week-long class presented by Hildy Gottlieb and Dimitri Petropolis from the Community Driven Institute. The class was centered around The Pollyanna Principles, a book I’ve talked about previously on this blog. The two of us have come away with so much that we’d like to share with the world. However, on this blog posting I feel compelled to speak to the issue of ensuring our work is aligned behind our vision.

Throughout the course we spoke of the very real ability to create amazing communities. That ability starts with creating a vision that captures our highest potential – not for the organization but rather for the community. We must be able to see how lives will be dramatically changed as a result of our efforts. After all, when we aim for the sun or the moon, if we don’t make it, at least we’ll be up among the stars.

However, we can create the most inspiring vision known to man, but if our work does not move us on a direct trajectory toward our vision, we will fail to get there, or at best, get there after unnecessary delays and untold financial and human costs. Dimitri shared the example of a space craft designed to reach the moon. The astronauts or Mission Control must make numerous adjustments throughout the flight to ensure the craft remains on the proper path. If it is off by even a degree or two over the course of its long journey the craft will miss the moon altogether. Think how often we allow mission creep or even the protection of a program that is past its prime to take us the degree or two off course. With money as tight as it has been this last year and the needs greater than ever, we cannot afford squandering resources on paths that are not perfectly aligned with our vision.

So, begin today by reviewing your vision. Consider the conditions that must be met in order to achieve it. Identify the community impact goals that will allow you to meet each condition. Then prioritize these goals based on those that are most likely to help you reach your vision in the most elegant and robust manner possible.

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