At a meeting this week, I had to remind myself and my team that the decision in front of us was a means decision (an activity) that had an impact on our end (goal). While this sounds simple, it becomes very difficult in the rush and flurry of activity that an enterprise undertakes. So what can those in leadership roles do to keep themselves and their teams focused on ends and not get hung up entirely on means? Here are a few thoughts:
- Always ask the question "what are we trying to accomplish?" Sometimes the answer might be as simple as making a means decision...and sometimes the question will lead to a very stratgic discusion which can change the decision on the means
- Clearly identify the ends - what are the goals toward which the organization and/or the team is aiming? If this is known, it becomes much easier to sort through the many means available for a team to decide
- Revisit the ends from time to time - do not assume that everyone will remember them or even think about them. In the rush of daily activities, means often become the driver of people's time and thoughts
- Ask the quesiton of whether or not a discussion is an ends discussion or a means discussion - both are important...clarification will keep the team on track
- Be as clear as possible about the ends the organization is trying to accomplish - "save the world" is great, but often unknown when one arrives there (if one arrives there). Trying to identify an end goal that makes sense and can be accomplished makes it easier it is to talk about the means to get there.
As I get ready to walk into this board meeting, I know that much of my reporting is on means...are we doing what we said we would be doing and how well are we doing in those areas? AND I know that the Board will want to be assured that we are still on track to accomplish the end/goal/outcome of men and women who transform communities by seeking out leadership positions and influencing people for Christ.