The Line

Here’s a concept I’ve been thinking about for some time.

I have a hypothesis. It seems at many organizations there is quite often a void or a disconnect between Vision and Values and Policy and Process. That’s not judgement. It is something I’ve seen over the years in places I’ve worked and clients with whom I’ve worked.

I’m not sure just yet if that is good or bad when it comes to attracting talent. Some of us are drawn to organizations that define and demonstrate their Vision and/or Values well. Others of us are drawn to the more practical nature of well defined Policy and Process to guide an organization. And still others of us like the challenge of being part of an organization where we’ll be creating Vision and/or Values or Policy and Process (or all four…).

Where I think the disconnect hinders an organization is when it comes to retention of talent. There will come a point where a line must be crossed, regardless of how someone enters an organization, that demonstrates they are committed to all aspects of what the organization believes and what the organization actually is. I am calling this The Line.

I represent this concept as:

VV | PP

The Line is not culture. I see Culture as the system – implicit and explicit, formal and informal – that ties VV and PP together. Without defining The Line, Culture cannot come to life. It’s like a house divided. An organization cannot stand on Vision and Values alone without being able to execute via Policy and Process. Nor can Policy and Process dominate to the point where it’s not clear what the organization stands for via it’s Vision and Values. Culture has to allow for these things to be in harmony.

Regardless, the idea is employees may enter an organization for their own reasons, but if they are going to be committed to that organization, they’ve got to cross The Line. They have to embrace Vision, Values, Policy and Process. Which, of course, means the organization has to clearly define and effectively – and consistently – communicate all of these things.

The Line needs to be:

  • Common sense
  • Easily understood
  • Visible in action
  • Second nature
  • Permeable

And here’s a mind map where I’m playing with this concept some more. I have a feeling I’ll be coming back to this one.

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