Normally, organizational visions are created by leaders because they have the best perspective and organizational scope to imagine what the organization can become.
For sure, a key leadership function is creating a vision for the organization and communicating it at every possible opportunity.
The mistake many leaders make is not involving the individuals in the organization more when formulating a vision. This is often done for expediency.
Gaining the input of a wide constituency is tedious and time consuming work that seems unnecessary. I believe it is necessary if the vision is to have the ultimate power required to make it a reality.
Individuals who work on the shop floor may not have all the fancy degrees as the boss, and they certainly do not make as much money. But people in the trenches have a unique perspective that no CEO can have.
They understand how things really work. CEOs believe they know, but in reality, they are often clueless about how the organization actually functions at the lowest levels.
The knowledge of ordinary people on what is possible and what would be wise is invaluable information to include in the visioning process. To do without it is sub-optimal.
Many a flawed vision has been perpetrated by leaders who thought they knew what was going on when they really had only a partial view. Their information was eclipsed by layers of middle management who filter information and spoon feed top leaders information that has a heavy agenda attached.
In addition to information, the shop floor people are often the most creative people in an organization. This is because they are unfettered by bureaucratic clap-trap and can think about problems more objectively.
They have a simple approach that looks at a problem and figures out ingenious ways to deal with it.
Finally, including all levels in the generation of a vision improves the ability to pull it off because when people are part of a process, they become emotionally attached to its success. They have trust that the vision is the right path for the organization.
This is the concept that Joel Barker called “The Vision Community.” The people in the organization have as much power as the boss to achieve or torpedo a vision. When the Vision Community agrees to support a vision because they were part of its creation, there is a much more robust pathway toward success.
Bob Whipple is CEO of Leadergrow Inc., a company dedicated to growing leaders. He speaks and conducts seminars on building trust in organizations.