Vilma Cobos, Business Consultant, El Salvador Three stonemasons (stone workers) are working on a construction when a traveler comes in and asks them, "What are you doing?"
- The first mason, who seems bored and unhappy at his job and is frequently looking at his watch, replies: "I'm just hammering rock".
- Then the visitor approaches a second worker who seems happier and is working more diligently, and asks again: "what are you doing?" and the second worker responds, "I'm molding this block of rock so it can be used to construct a wall".
- Finally the traveler approaches a third worker who is working on the stones fervently and with great care and precision, and again the visitor asks "what are you doing?" and the worker replies, "I'm building a cathedral".
Above anecdote reminds us that many of the employees in any organization do not know the vision and mission of their company. And even less how important their own work is in achieving its objectives. This has severe consequences for their motivation and organizational commitment.
I conclude that communication of the strategic vision, corporate mission, purpose and values is really important. And information about these things must flow to all hierarchical levels of the organization so that all employees feel part of them and are clear about their own objectives and the role/importance of their own work for the purpose of the organization as a whole.
Make People Carry the Vision in their Hearts PT de Boer, Netherlands A touching story which demonstrates not only the need for communicating a vision; it also shows that a vision is only effective when people carry it with them in their hearts. If the priest would preach to start building a cathedral and the people would look around and see only a few people sitting in a tiny chapel they will think it a useless vision.
Working on a vision which makes sense to the people is a complicated task.
Vision and Cathedral BarbaFroid, Italy This story, like the koan of the Japanese Zen, can have various interpretations. Just think of dictatorships, how much rhetoric they use! Think, in CCCP, speeches about the construction of a socialist society... And then just read "overloaded tramway" of Evtuskenko!
The 3rd answer might be meaningful, but then the stone-worker must be truly involved in the project, not just "the communication of a vision".Editor: Certainly visions, rhetoric and charisma all can have a dark side when they're used in the wrong way by the wrong people.
Some Leaders are Reluctant to Communicate the Mission and Vision VENKATESH, India Clear communication of the vision and mission is of utmost importance. People/organisations often have hidden agendas behind their missions/visions.
Some types of leaders are reluctant to convey the full details and importance of the mission either being afraid of demands from its employees for more facilities/ benefits.
But it's crucial that while making a tapestry the people working at the back are shown the beauty of the outcome of their job.
Having done a good job should also be appropriately be rewarded instead of finding mistakes after the job is done.
It is seen that whenever there is clear and transparent communication of the objective, outcome and process people get involved in it to their best.
The Cathedral Story is not about Selling! Nic Roest, The Netherlands The essence of the story is not in the need of SELLING your vision to your co-workers.
It's about the importance of co-workers knowing why they are part of a team, department, company. If you don't share them in the bigger picture, you are limited to motivation mechanisms solely focused on their specific tasks...
So yes, let's motivate our stonemasons by using our vision to move rock from A to B.
Vision and the Story of the Stonemasons Nkomo, Zimbabwe This may be an old story, but I believe in what Vilma is trying to achieve in organizations.
Workers must know the ultimate goal of their work so that they will work consciously and not mechanical.
Knowing the vision and mission of a company is important because this future outlook and these company goals are generally beneficially to the worker himself/herself in the long run, provided of course the company is not a profit maximizer that doesn't care about the social aspects of its activities.
Visions explain the social aspects and thus could motivate workers.
The Cathedral and the Importance of Communicating the Vision and Mission Mohankrishna, India A vision can be personal (set by a person for himself) or organizational (for an organization).
For personal vision, an individual is responsible. But for the vision of the organization, the entire management team has to work together to make it a shared vision. Hence communication is much more important for an organizational vision.
More important than the above is whether the meaning of the vision is correctly understood or not. Leaders must ensure that it is understood such that it will be kept to the hearts of the team. If this process is not adopted, every group might interpret the vision in their own way, keeps working in different directions, and may be successful in achiveing the group's vision, but not in the shared vision.
Powerful Story About the Stone Masons and the Cathedral Jaap de Jonge, Netherlands @Raphael Gichora Mugo: Indeed stories are known to have the ability to communicate complex ideas or things in a simple and powerful way.
Our brains and memories are very good at remembering stories. This probably goes back to the times when internet forums :-), books and in fact writing had not been invented yet and our ancestors had to rely upon stories to exchange information from one person to another.
Because we remember stories so easily, they are used a lot in communicating and engaging people/employees in vision and mission statements. For more info see Storytelling.
The Leader's Role in Communicating the Vision and Mission ISAAC MUCHENGA, Zimbabwe The HR (psychological) part of leadership is one of the most difficult tasks. A motivated and engaged employee is more receptive to these strategic issues of vision and mission of the organisation.
Of course it is the responsibility of the company leadership to clearly expound and articulate the vision and then the mission to the followers/employees, so that they receive, accept and support their management in attaining the company's future outlook and goals.
There are also other Motivational Approaches... Daniel Jarvis, United States This parabel exhibits paramount points to create synergy within an organization by illuminating the importance of making every employee realize their value.
However, I would add celebrating short-term wins with employees when benchmarks are achieved will also promote long-term motivation.
Envisioned Future Charles Alter, USA Jim Collins says a vision must be a longterm Envisioned Future, not just a short-term concept of where an organization is headed. Coupled with a huge challenge to achieve it, called a BHAG - big, hairy, audacious goal - leaders can indeed translate the vision into a daily reality for all employees.
Easier said than done, but worth every bit of effort.
How Good are we at Communicating the Vision and Mission to Stakeholders? Pat Hannon, Ireland The vision is the foundation for the mission. Forming an effective mission (which should be visionary) needs a high degree of ethical standards from employees which in turn guides behaviour as they work to help the organisation fulfill its mission.
Remember the mission should establish the organisations individuality. The key here is to get the staff to buy into the strategic process and dispel the notion that mission statements are not viewed as lofty statements put out to gain public relations value and have little bearing on how the organisation conducts its business affairs.
"Good business leaders create a vision, articulate the vision, passionately own the vision, and relentlessly drive it to completion.
I see a lot of companies do not have a clear vision and mission such as what Jack Welch said.
Some of the reasons / excuses given for not having a (clear) vision and mission are:
- It takes too much time to develop them;
- We will never reach consensus;
- Everyone that works already knows what we do;
- We have our goals - who needs a vision and mission?
In my opinion, none of these reasons outweigh the benefits of having well-written statements:
- If an organization can not define it's reason for existing (mission) and where it is going (vision), how can it align people, processes, products or services towards a successful future?
- Strengthen culture through a unified sense of purpose;
- Improve decision-making with clarity about future
- Enhanced cross-functional relationships through a shared understanding of priorities.
Benefits of Clarity of Purpose in the Vision and Mission Statements ISAAC E. OGBUKA PhD, Nigeria Whenever the vision statement is simplified and properly communicated to the team and workforce timely, the result is always fantastic. It first of all leads to value creation and facilitates a rapid pursuit and achievement of objectives expressed in the mission statement, for the common good and mutual benefit of all stakeholders. The level of commitment of the workforce is also increased.
"When you are up to your eyeballs in alligators, it is hard to remember that your mission is to drain the swamp."
Editor: ~when you are working on something and get side tracked by something else that takes up all of your time and energy, you may easily lose sight of your original / main goal or task.
In the context of this joke, the mission is the vision.
The mission is a strategic element of the organizational narrative. The mission is what you can actually put your hands on, existentially, in the fulfillment of the vision. I agree that the mission grows out of the vision, but, without the mission, a vision is nothing more than swamp gas hovering just beyond reach.
The mission ought to be the first thing an employee learns about the enterprise, The vision will make a great deal more sense to him or her when s/he has a personal investment in the process required of the mission. A stonemason who is happy to have a job and his heart focused on his child's little league season could be as good as the more visionary third stonemason.
Combination of QWL and the Vision Mohammad Hossein Rohani, Iran Of course, the communication of the vision and mission is really important. At least at the level of middle managers and team leaders who are engaged with the body of organization.
But I personally agree with @Elias Mhegera that the communication process should be combined with the organization welfare and the quality of working life to have the best consequence at the organization level. This factor in the poor countries is very important.
Who Told Me That we Were Building a Cathedral? Daniel MOUSSOUGAN, Benin That is an excellent story, describing realistic situations that whow the ways we understand our organization's goals and the role we are playing in it. Though the three employees may be judged differently according to what they know, believe and say about their organization, the general manager or the proprietors of any firm have a lot to learn from this story.
Communicating a vision and making it a core action of a firm communications is critical to an effective involvement of employees. Thanks Vilma for sharing.
The Cathedral and the Vision Jack Blanc, Peru The three workers will all eventually finish their job. But the three of them will put a different amount of effort in it. And only the second and third one benefit from the joy of fulfilling the view they have of the purpose.
On the Relevance of Management Communication abebe kebede, Ethiopia You know, sometimes I see people coming to office each day and simply waiting for the last minute to go out and I ask myself for how long are they doing this, always being there for the sake of nothing.
But the problem may also indicate the lack of management communication like stated in this simple looking but essential piece of information. .
Story is Basis for 3 Perspectives Hermann Doppler, Germany The stone workers story was exemplary to me for years. I know it by Peter Drucker and Fredmund Malik who was a Student of Peter Drucker.
For me the story is the basis for 3 perspectives:
1. It's the basis for Peter Drucker's Management By Objectives, which was further developped to Hoshin Kanri. It ensures that the employees are involved.
2. It's the basis for how to work in a team.
3. It's the basis for real leadership.
Obligations of Management for the Received Value of the Worker's Opportunity Costs Tom Wilson, USA @abebe kebede: F.W. Taylor disdained of the worker who just "soldiered on' day after day, without the spark of enthusiasm of the joyful stonemason. Taylor was a Quaker and the term was pretty much an insult. But the fact that the person showed up everyday, if only for a paycheck, but nevertheless could be counted on to accomplish tasks within certain parameters is of great value to the manager, who can begin his own planning with at least this baseline of capacity in place.
In the case of this worker, just soldiering on, the only communication s/he wants is the paycheck around which s/he is building a life. It is the duty of management to respect the opportunity costs to the worker for providing this capacity, which is a capital investment in management's vision as profound as the most significant stockholder. Like in Jesus's parable of the rich man's great offering and the widow's pennies, to whom is the manager more beholding?
Help the Employees Help You Emmanuel Mwirichia, Kenya In order for each employee to feel like their work is valued a lot, it is important for the leaders/managers to constantly remind them that they are part of a bigger system and purpose.
When I know how my action (or lack thereof) affects the entire war machine, I am definitely going to work harder.
A simple internal motivation technique.
Communicating the Vision Requires PASSION so it is Inspiring.. Hardtmann, Germany @Carlos Barbera: Hi Carlos, I believe that if you have a vision in which you believe, and are able to share it in such a way to inspire others (vs simply showing it, which may result in different or mixed feelings) the engagement will come on its own.
The hundreds of managers I've worked with over the years have again and again shown us how much impact the passion or commitment of a single person with a vision can be. And actually, when we look at business and innovation, this holds true here, too.
So I wish you much passion and a fiery presentation of your vision! Michael (Sent via iPhone...).
The Stone Carvers Parable: The First Stone Carver alvarez-pereyre, France The Stone Carvers Parable has been a simple, direct and powerful eye-opener for many in my consultancy and coaching work for years. Besides, it opens so many doors on related fields (such as strategic thinking, setting objectives, the power of the narrative).
But maybe there is also a possible invitation to go one step further: what if the vision or ultimate purpose had indeed been shared with the first, less enthusiastic stone carver?!
I'm sure many surveys would easily show that there is no direct correlation between the "quality" of the vision or mission statement as communicated on the welcome page of some organisations' website and the degree of staff motivation and engagement in the same organisations!
The underlying issue may very well be one around creating the conditions for true ownership of the vision, particularly through the various possible forms of active staff involvement in carefully crafted co-design processes.
The Leader and the Player and Management's Ego Need for Followers Tom Wilson, USA @Hermann Doppler: I like your observation very much.
The three men could be seen as players on the same team, each supporting the other. The bored stone mason is doing the very rough shaping of the stone, maybe cutting the blocks from the quarry for the second stone mason to further shape to the requirements of the third, who completes the process.
My question to Alverez-Pereyre: who is to say the first stone mason is unaware of the vision of the third? In my opinion, the fact that he doesn't share the PASSION of management is immaterial to the quality of his output or the rigor of his industry. This need of upper management for wage earners to do back flips over management's enlightenment reflects more on the ego needs of management than the instrumental needs of the enterprise.
This is why the mission, which grows out of the vision, is the essential element of the Mission-Men-Self priorities of leadership. Vision will emerge as mission is achieved.
However, once the organization starts functioning, its mission (the reason for it to exist) has to be already established towards which the organization is to optimally utilize its resources.
Therefore, for an existing organization, with its mission in place, the envisioning has to be carried out by its leadership - preferably based on SWOT analysis, towards fulfilling its mission.
So my thesis is that:
1. Vision is a pre-requisite for creating an organization and establishing its purpose (mission)
2. Mission then becomes the purpose for the organization to exist and function, and subsequently a strategic vision is needed to effectively direct it towards that perpetual pursuit.
Your ideas please for enlightenment.
Communication at the Workplace and Mentality of Workers Towards their Work Okorie Emmanuel, Nigeria The story, whether true or fiction clearly shows the mentality of workers towards their work based on their understanding of why they are doing what they are told to do at work and the final outcome.
However you may not blame some of them who work under a CEO that has no vision nor understands the mission of the founder of the organisation.
In such a case, no amount of motivation can bring the expected results. The workers will merely be "cutting sones" as the first man in the story.
Mision and Vision Communication at Workplace Jose A. De las Rivas, Spain But what we're talking about: employee engagement? And what about the commitment of leaders, managers and directors who in most cases are just looking for different ways of handling deals to hide the reality of what they want: make more money.
Stop treating people like children and say things as they are; the first stone mason is a cheeky person, the last a freeky one. I prefer normal and professional people such as the second stone worker. It is the most common.
Generally, all these well-meant lectures (or not) don't care much for the workers. They are things of the rulers, to take their time and do not sweat too much themselves.
When Vision Becomes the Mission, the Mission Needs a Vision Tom Wilson, USA @Mirza Fareed Beg: I think you have it about right. The entrepreneur has a vision of a widget and his mission is, first, to create the widget, and, there after, to deliver that widget (or build that cathedral). At that point, the vision has become the mission and the project has left the entrepreneurial stage. This is the point where a need for a strategic vision beyond the mission is an important tool of management navigation, but not entirely germane to the tasks of the daily routine.
What happens after the cathedral is built may necessarily occupy the imagination of management more fully then the supervision required to guide the enlightened stonemason. For one thing, there will be a lot of out of work stonemasons.
To the extent that the mission is a strategic element in the organizational narrative, the strategic vision adds back an entrepreneurial capacity to management's sphere of influence. Ford ignored this requirement and Sloane didn't.
Mission and Vision Communications in an Environment of Problems Carlos Barbera, Spain @Jose A. De las Rivas: You are right Jose Antonio, leaders of the project or company are the first goal of communication of Mission and Vision, and of course they should be committed to them.
The problem today (in many companies in Spain) is that the crisis complicates things: it is complex to manage and engage people (managers in particular) in an enviroment of internal economical and financial problems.
Vision & Core Values Charles Alter, USA @Carlos Barbera: The dilemma is that lofty Visions and Missions are lost during the stress of crisis management, which is the new normal for many companies. The acid test for what stays and what is lost relates to the Core Values a company has articulated.
The big question to ask about core values is: "if everything changes and our company is stressed, would we still embrace our core values?" If the answer is no or maybe, then it's not a core value. Great Visions are built on true core values.
The Difference Between Vision and Mission Wayne Faison, USA This is a great story that reminds me of what I've always been taught concerning the difference between vision and mission. Vision relates to what one is becoming, while mission relates to what one is doing. To put it another way, launching twelve rockets in ten years -- is a mission. Putting a man on the moon and returning him safely to Earth by the end of the decade -- is a vision.Editor: Broadly this is correct. See the discussion Mission: To Achieve the Vision for more info. Or see the summary pages of Strategic Vision and of the Ashridge Mission Model.
Vision Communication abebe kebede, Ethiopia @Tom Wilson: if we are looking into what has actually been happening in most of the private companies today, some employees know that the company's vision is not theirs and you cannot simply tell them to take it granted, rather there should be a very effective practically acceptable mechanism...
There Is, Indeed, a Lack of Stewardship in Corporate Leadership Tom Wilson, USA @abebe kebede: I agree completely, Most of what is put out by CEOs as vision statements are self-serving justifications for looting the corporate treasuries and payrolls and stripping assets in order to finance obscene executive compensation.
My favorite case study in this vein is Frank Lorenzo's dismantling of Eastern Airlines for the narrow benefit of him and a few top stockholders, putting 50,000 workers out of work and destroying a perfectly fine airline. The amazing thing was that he went back to the FAA and wanted to do the same thing with other airlines.
For my money, Robert Crandall did essentially the same thing at American and he is considered by his corporate peers to be a legend of management. Jack Welch falls into the same category. These guys control the press releases and what they put out is designed to flatter their egos and disguise their actual intent. The fact that it is not considered criminal behavior reflects our politics.
Mission, Vision and Core Values Jose A. De las Rivas, Spain @Carlos Barbera: Thanks Carlos, but I think that not only is a particular problem of the crisis in Spain but rather aproblem of lacking ethics and values that dominate the business world, often encouraged by the success stories that do not explain the means used and the bodies on the road.
Lack of Trust is the Real Problem John Sunderland, UK This is a very unlikely scenario - didn't medieval cathedral builders actually have a strong collective vision? OK maybe this is just a parable and not a real case study about motivation in the cathedral construction industry. In which case what is the purpose of the story - are we looking at a real or manufactured problem? It seems clear that the problem of leadership today is not about developing or communicating a vision. There is no shortage of grand vision statements. The problem is that they have been undermined by questionable, self serving leadership. Examples of unethical, socially irresponsible behavior are everywhere. How do we recover from this massive breakdown in trust? This is the real question.
Communicating Mission & Vision Leena Bissoonauth, Mauritius This story shows how these three workers are reacting differently.
Stories are indeed what shapes the employees' behavior which may be positive and negative. Only a clear vision provides the foundation for developing a comprehensive mission. I personally believe that vision and mission should be clear and SMART so that after communicating to employees the latter are more committed than compliant.
Committed employees are more engaged and motivated towards achieving what the mission states.
Shared vision creates a commonality of interest that can lift workers out of the monotony of daily work and put them into a new world of opportunity & challenge.
Note that organizations also need to have the human capital in order to achieve what the vision and mission state.
Is there a Match between an Individual's Expectations and the Organization's Expectations? salem ahmed, Yemen, Hadramout For the question: How and when are individuals committed to the vision of organization, I recommend to pay attention to motivations: they have a significant impact on the amount of effort made by individuals in their activities. Motives give us the ability to predict what the behavior of individuals or organizations will be.
We are all playing different roles with different expectations:
- In various stages of their lives,
- In our professional versus our private life, and
- In the various groups that we are part of.
For an individual, we will find different behavior according to these roles, moties and expectations. We should understand that an organization has its own expectations, motives and goals, just as individuals do.
A great commitment comes from the compatibility between a person's expectations and objectives and the ones of the organization.
The Mission is the Means to Achieve the Vision Augustine T. Mansaray, Sierra Leone @Tom Wilson: I totally agree with your take on this subject especially in situations where motivation is mostly driven by extrinsic rewards such as good pay and work benefits. In particular in the public sector wage levels are so low that it would require self motivation to create involvement and commitment to the aims and objectives of the organization.
So I think commitment to the mission, by knowing what to do and how your role fits into the overall picture regardless of how small is what will make the difference.
On Capitol Hill, the Mission is All for Staffers Tom Wilson, USA @Augustine T. Mansaray: I responded in another forum about Capitol Hill staffers being deferred from Obamacare.
I have been in DC for 40 years and, at one point, had many contacts on the Hill from rugby and certain projects I was involved in. Staffers don't go to work on the Hill for the long haul because of the pay but because of the word. Many lawyers forgo ambulance chasing to serve in various capacities, which validates your thesis.
Right wing propaganda notwithstanding, some of the hardest working people in the world work on the Hill and in the federal government. Their ambitions are fueled by the factors you mention, but almost all of them are motivated by service.
I've seen the same thing in the airlines, which is one of the most mission oriented industries in the land and this esprit de corps, which is real, has been systematically abused by the current crop of hired help in the executive suites.
Communicating Vision, Mission and Values Richard Mariwa, Botswana Most organisations have elaborate vision and mission statements stated in glossy strategic agenda documents but the linkage to the corporate DNA which affects employee response is missing. Leaders may be communicating a vision that is not supported by the culture in the obtaining crisis environment we are in today as expressed by @Charles Alter.
Trust in the leadership has a bearing on how engaged and motivated a workforce will be towards the vision and mission. How could the first stonemason be motivated to be at same level as the 3rd stonemason?
Communicating Motivation Tom Wilson, USA @Richard Mariwa: Richard, I tend to agree with Venkatesh: the metrics for motivation is different for each stone mason and the issue for me is how that motivation shows up on time and ready to play out their role. I am not discounting the enthusiasm of the 3rd/Master stone mason, because he will elevate the motivation of the rest of the crew. But if the 1st Stonemason shows up everyday for 30 years, rain and shine, what ever his motivation is has a similar existential value to the total project as the 3rd one. That needs to be respected and that's what I believe Venkatesh is saying. As you say, trotting out glossy slogans may stimulate management, but workers watch what they do much more than what they say. Trust is the coin of the realm in issues of motivation.
Communicating Motivation alvarez-pereyre, France @Tom Wilson: I would fully agree that the existential value of one is not higher or lower than that of any other stone carver.
It may be necessary, though, to reflect upon which of the contributions will be more needed in times where the capacity to relate one's work and decisions to a "bigger picture" matters so much. And that doesn't mean people who just want to do their job properly without much sense of purpose should be judged negatively.
This story is actually an interesting case of where "leadership" should lie exactly in an organisation for it to be able to face its challenges successfully. I would tend to think that, on the whole, the further down the hierarchical scale leadership goes (let's say building a critical mass), the more reactive and agile the organisation will be.
People on a Mission Gary Stead, UK Great story and insightful comments. So how about our stonemason - is he a target (to sell our vision to or to motivate to follow it)?
If so - the engagement is a push. When it is a pull - the motivation is evident and we put our efforts to coaching the vision.
Somebody said it already - engagement is the key. If we can achieve congruence between the architect's vision and the stonemason's motivation - how powerful might that be?