Author, John Kotter, probably the most respected voice in the world on organizational change, says that most change efforts fail. A major reason for this is that leaders under-communicate the vision by a factor of ten!
According to Kotter:
“Employee members will not make sacrifices, even if they are unhappy with the status quo, unless they believe that useful change is possible. Without credible communication, and a lot of it, the hearts and minds of the troops are never captured.” (Kotter, 1995)
Vision is critical to mission getting done.
Vision is a painting. I’m a water colour artist. Vision is a painting of a scene that produces passion or emotion in people. It is a preferred future that inspires, brings hope and, with God’s help, comes to being.
The Apostle John on Ownership
In John 10, we listen to Jesus tell the story of the hired-hands who cared for the sheep. When a pack of wolves came looking for a rack of lamb, guess who went running for the hills — the hired-hands. The owner knew the sheep by name and would risk his life for his lambs. Owners do whatever it takes to propel the mission and vision forward. Owners are willing to die for the mission they own.
Which begs the question – do I give assent to Jesus’ mission, applaud it, or do I own His mission?
One Day on “Bloody Sunday”
Six hundred people crossed a bridge in Louisiana marching to Montgomery, Alabama in March 1965 to tell the Governor that blacks should be able to vote. On the other side of the bridge stood hundreds of hateful, racist police officers with attack dogs, clubs, and tear gas. These people stopped, looked at the police, the teeth, the clubs, and they all did a “gut check”. Do I really own this vision, because it’s likely going to mean getting in harm’s way. Today we know this event as “Bloody Sunday”. A nation realized change was coming because some people were willing to die for a vision of a preferred future. The Civil Rights movement followed this blood bath.
Vision leaks amid weak leadership
Vision leaks. This is a fact. It’s inevitable in church and any organization. Most people get their ownership cue from their leader. They are willing to take a bullet as long as the leader is willing to take the first bullet. Most won’t settle for the “hired-hand” lowball vision that costs little. This vision is birthed by leaders asking people to own what they themselves are not willing to pay for. Most want to own something that costs dearly. Jesus is one example. Salvation cost Him glory. Imagine a divine being becoming a baby unable to neither feed Himself nor hold His own bladder. It cost Him His blood at Calvary. Our people wait for a leader with a vision that is costly. Are you a hired-hand or an owner?
Create a vision that is short and clear. Then communicate it like crazy. A leader’s responsibility is to articulate the organizations mission and vision. If a church member rambles on for a few minutes trying to state the vision, then your vision statement is too long. It must be an “elevator speech” that church members can give between floors in an elevator. Tell me your vision in 30 seconds or less. Ready? Go! If you can’t do it, work on the vision. If you can, start telling the vision in every way you can!