It is common in business to talk about “gaps” and to spend time analyzing those gaps for ways to improve. There are, in this context, as many gaps as there are organizations and opportunities to seize or problems to resolve.
We have chosen to focus on just “3 Gaps” as fundamental to a particular type of success – the success found in engaging people around a common cause. Engagement occurs when people seek and find common cause in the form of “meaning”. Disengagement is the product of key stakeholders failing to find meaning in what is being pursued.
Meaning is rooted in shared values, beliefs and goals. Organizations succeed when they know and build around these three core elements. Organizations fail when opposing or competing values, beliefs and goals create institutional silos that consume collective opportunity through internal competition.
Values, what matters most to an organization or individual, identify the highest priorities for that individual or group. Often captured as a key component of the traditional “mission, vision and values” statements, ubiquitous in business today, they are meant to provide a foundational rallying point for organizational effort.
Beliefs are those paradigms we individually and collectively hold as to how to succeed and how to avoid failure. I recently read that our beliefs are as much a “mix of amnesia and creativity” as they are of fact. Commonly held beliefs may represent a synergistic world-view that drives success or a collective confusion that slowly destroys.
Goals, the most commonly discussed element of the “3 Gaps”, represent everything from a high level strategy to the most mundane of objectives. The pursuit and achievement of goals is elemental to getting and keeping people engaged.
Gaps, in our view represent the difference between where we are and where we desire to be. Are we living our values, or are they just pretty statements on a poster? Are our beliefs feeding success or blocking it? How do we know? Are we aligned with and on target to achieve our goals or have we lost our way, too busy being busy to be productive?
Where there are gaps disengagement is growing. As we close those gaps people re-engage and the organization becomes more productive. Managing the 3 Gaps is the most fundamental of leadership responsibilities. It is the thing that, when done well, draws key stakeholders together and, when done poorly, drives them apart. How are you managing your “3 Gaps”?