Take Them to the River

We played around with a river metaphor – with mixed results – during our week with the global leadership team from ChildFund.

During an exploration of their strategic plan, we had teams wrestle with the desired outcomes (the ocean) built within their plan – and to identify both the key strategies  that fed the outcomes (the river) and other organizational initiatives that supported the strategies (the tributaries).

During the debrief, one of the participants noted that 60% of the health of a river came from its tributaries. I didn’t Google check that particular fact, but it did get me thinking about the real importance of work that tends to happen around the edges in our organizations.

Another participant shared that he spent most of his time at work buried in the tributaries, and that this was one of the first times he’d had the time to clearly see the relationship between his day-to-day work and the organization’s strategic vision.

There are plenty of directions I could run with these observations, but one chord in particular is struck for me.

If a significant slice of our non-strategic work contributes to the health of our strategies, and the employees who do that work don’t see a clear linkage between their work and the strategic vision, why aren’t we having more strategic discussions with all of our employees?

Don’t leave your best assets floundering upstream. Take them to the river, and let them swim with you.