Another of Senge’s five disciplines of a learning organization is Shared Vision. Initially my reaction was this was obvious and every CEO shares his vision with the troops. Senge did not mean sharing a vision. He means a learning organization truly has a vision which is shared by the whole organization. An example might be Google where I think everybody shares the idea of innovation and trying new things. The CEO cannot dictate a shared vision no matter how many times he repeats it. These kinds of things have be somehow put into the DNA of the organization.
There are many examples of visions which are created at the top but never really get off the ground. I recall an aerospace company that espoused the vision of getting into the software business. I do think they even knew what that meant. They were either a mechanical engineering company or a communications company but not software. I think the only shared vision in that organization was OPM. They used Other People’s Money to do everything. Everything was cost plus and the software was a tool to get other things to work. I do not think they even developed that software but sub-contracted it.
I think it is very tough to have a shared vision but I think one that is worth striving towards. How is your organization developing a shared vision, or is it written on the tablets at the senior management planning session and shared. Often the shared vision, which most organizations have, is not something management would like to accept. Often the shared vision is one that does not put the company in a good light. Some examples:
- AFB, Anything for a Buck.
- "All animals are equal but some are more equal than others".(Animal Farm)
- "My way or the highway."
- "What ever it takes. Ends justify the means."
I would love to hear about others.