Saturday, 23 June 2012

Clarity , Commitment and Freedom in Co-creating Shared Vision, and Role of Leadership

 When more than one person decide to co-create a shared vision ,they agree to forego a part of their freedom and a part of personal vision, and then evolve  a shared vision which is different  from each of the personal visions .The shared vision  has clarity  and commitment from all  concerned and  evolves gradually out of conversation and inquiry.The  shared vision has a very high chance of being realised , and takes the group/organization  nearer to its purpose, while preserving the core values.Commitment  of every body releases lot of energy in the organization.
                                This issue of how to co-create a shared vision among forty four thousand students  and about three thousand teachers and other employees  of City Montessori School, Lucknow  came up when the Management  of the school decided to adopt the "Green Schools Programme" of the Centre for Science and Environment(CSE) , New Delhi.The programme was launched on 20th June , 2012 in Lucknow when a workshop on" Environment and Energy" was organized by the school  in the presence experts on environment , Principals ,Vice Principals , other  key functionaries and government officials .
What can schools do in a  situation when the crisis of global warming is real and impending , when ground water is going down at an alarming rate , when people in general are using more and more electricity in an inefficient manner?There can be an active participation  between schools and community not only for  awareness and attitude building but also by  active involvement of   teachers ,students and members of the community."Green Schools Programme" of Centre for Science and environment(CSE) gives a framework  about participation of schools in community/neighborhood to create awareness, attitudes and to take concrete action through schools to conserve environment.The byproducts are creation of a learning organization, with unique opportunities to develop interpersonal and leadership skills( for students and teachers) , which are essential for success in life.
                                               As a basic idea for developing a shared vision, it was proposed to make  Lucknow  city(in State of UP, India) the most clean , green, pollution free and environment friendly city in the State,  create history and to organize every year an international event  on environment.Principals  were asked  bless and support this noble project, being  the Leaders and the Prime Movers.
The  process of building shared vision  is emerging as a distinct  discipline in leadership literature.Peter M . Senge in his book "The Fifth Discipline" has dealt with this issue of Shared Vision in  great details.I have used some of his recommendations in what follows.
A shared vision is the first step in working together.It creates a common identity.People have loyalty  to a shared vision .Only then , petty differences and pettiness disappear.Building or "co-creating" a shared vision among all the members of an organization  must be seen as an essential element of  of the daily work of leaders.
                                                     Shared vision is different from the personal vision of the leader at the top.Every person has a personal vision .But it is not possible to develop a shared vision by a command from the top.We cannot even convince people to take a long term view, but if people , in their freedom  desire  to have a vision , no one can stop them. We should not try to convince people.We should share and listen.Shared Vision  is based on freedom , commitment and clarity of  every individual.It involves  two things:
1.A desire to be connected to an important and larger purpose.
2.A desire to be connected and bonded to one another, with genuine respect for one another and for each others' views.                                                                                                              Development of shared vision requires systems thinking.People must believe that they have shaped their current reality and they can shape their future.But most people  in real life do not actually believe that they create their own reality.Therefore , they can not co-create a shared vision .Only by encouraging their belief in  systems thinking and in themselves , we can enable them to create a shared vision.Every one should feel fully responsible for making vision happen.Everyone should have commitment and not mere compliance.Everyone should not only accept but truly want.                                                          No one knows how to realize   vision, how to get there . But the goal is there.Envisioning a shared vision  is a joint  inquiry into the future we seek to create.This inquiry helps the vision to evolve.This does not mean that we do not need advocacy .We need strong advocacy for our ideas but only  accompanied  with inquiry.Shared vision fosters experimentation and  requires skills of reflection and inquiry.Process of Envisioning then becomes an inquiry process.Leaders must create a climate of inquiry, openness  encouragement and sharing.They should not hesitate to ask for support of all in building a vision.They should encourage openness and willingness  to entertain a diversity of ideas.They should listen to what the organization is trying to say.The reinforcing process of increasing clarity , enthusiasm,communication and commitment  spreads vision .This process should be adopted.Leader should reinforce by celebrating early successes in pursuing the vision .
                                              One of the obstacles in creating a shared vision is gap between vision and reality.Apparent difficulties can breed cynicism and result in discouragement.This requires  leaders to develop  capacity  and mastery of people to 'hold creative tension.Personal mastery is the bed rock for developing shared vision  and fosters sustained commitment to lofty vision.  .People must be encouraged and supported to achieve personal mastery.Another obstacle to  shared envisioning is diversity of views, conflicts and increasing polarization.A leader must harmonize diversity and conflicts.
                                           Writing a vision statement  can be a first step in building a shared vision but it should be  open  to complete change , if need be.A short paper can be presented for discussion.Rather than selling the vision to people , leaders should "enroll "people.Let others also believe themselves to be  messengers.Let each person add something new.
                                                       Leader and teams  must  give time for shared vision to emerge.Let there be no great urgency. Let them have an ongoing conversation, listen to each other's dreams and ideas.Leader and teams should develop their skills in conversation, reflection and inquiry.He /She must  not give speeches about vision but solve day to day problems with vision in mind .He/She  needs to focus less time and effort in fighting crises and managing current reality, or break off those pursuing the new vision  from those responsible for handling  current reality.
                                                          As far as possible , vision should  be positive .Negative visions like anti-corruption , anti-war . anti-drugs and anti-pollution  carry a message of powerlessness. The process needs to be anchored  in three governing ideas of purpose , values and vision .
                                           The above  discipline of co-creating shared vision can help us in  developing shared visions for inter-personal relationships ,partnerships, teams , groups , organizations, schools  and communities . The results, to my mind , can be  a great in terms of material achievements and in  emotional and spiritual satisfaction .