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Mission Impassable

Detour_sign As many of you know, I'm a big fan of Peggy Noonan.  I look forward to every Saturday's Wall Street Journal just so I can read her laser-focused and dead-on-accurate commentary on society and politics.  Today was no different.  As with many journalists, she weighed in on the new decade ahead.  While the emphasis of her essay was balancing stoicism with optimism, her supporting arguments caught my attention.  She provided example after example of organizations who had forgotten their mission, and the cost of doing so.  As she put it:

Maybe the most worrying trend the past 10 years can be found in this phrase: "They forgot the mission." So many great American institutions—institutions that every day help hold us together—acted as if they had forgotten their mission, forgotten what they were about, what their role and purpose was, what they existed to do. You, as you read, can probably think of an institution that has forgotten its reason for being. Maybe it's the one you're part of.

How true.  In systems thinking, I tend to emphasize the output (since my brand is about accomplishment, this seems only logical).  We create a lot of outputs throughout the day... the week... the year.  Most are done on purpose, but some outputs are created accidentally.  The accidental ones generally occur when we fall prey to forgetting our mission.  We create shoddy products because our companies forget their mission of quality.  We behave badly because we forget our core values.  Our projects spin out of control because they forget why the deliverable is important to the organization.

There must always be alignment between the output and the mission.  To lose that link renders the systems useless.

So what are you accomplishing?  Is it consistent with your mission?  Is your mission understood by those who are being asked to execute it?


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