The Rudderless Organization 

rudderlessWhere did we come from, where are we, where are we going and how do we get there? Working at an organization that hasn’t defined the above can be unbelievably frustrating. How do I know…..I’ve seen it. These types of organizations lack a purpose and employees can sense it. Employees can be confused, they don’t take initiative or have ownership of their functions and typically do the bare minimum to get by.

This is a failure of the CEO/Founder. They haven’t clearly articulated their vision or mission for their company. Maybe they don’t have one, maybe they don’t think it’s important or more likely they’re in the wrong position.

This company I’m thinking of had all sorts of dysfunction (leadership issues, management issues, communication issues, culture issues, quality control issues, delegation/control issues, strategic planning issues – plenty for future posts). They were having serious problems scaling the company. One of the issues was employee lack of understanding of the vision and mission of the company. I spoke to the CEO/Founder about this and he thought enough had been done (a one-time talk at the annual Christmas party) to ensure the employees knew the vision and the mission of his company. Clearly from my perspective this wasn’t the case. Every business unit floundered on a daily basis, accomplishing little to create a truly world-class organization.

What should have happened? Clear, consistent vision/mission messaging from the CEO/Founder. Without this the overall organization lacks character and direction. This core vision/mission links corporate strategy and processes, thereby aligning employee groups and motivating them to work toward a common objective. Everything the company does should be united by a unifying corporate theme. This also ties directly into organizational culture which should support the mission of the company. Every action/process the company does should be self-reinforcing of the overall mission. Too many organizations lack this character. There is nothing special about them, they have no powerful unifying focus that leads to a competitive advantage. They lack uniqueness, direction and spirit.

Create that direction and spirit in your organization. Have a vision and mission statement. Encourage your department heads to create their own vision and mission that supports the overall corporate theme.

Vision: This is the ultimate destination and the reason for the corporations existence. It provides guidance on what our purpose is and what we are working toward.

Mission: Defines the company’s business, it’s objectives and how it is going to achieve its vision. This provides management and staff direction and focus.