The Cathedral and the Importance of Communicating the Vision and Mission

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Vilma Cobos
Business Consultant, El Salvador

The Cathedral and the Importance of Communicating the Vision and Mission

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.

  PT de Boer
Partner, Netherlands

Make People Carry the Vision in their Hearts

A touching story which demonstrates not only the need for communicating a vision; it also shows that a vision is only ef...


Vision and Cathedral

This story, like the koan of the Japanese Zen, can have various interpretations. Just think of dictatorships, how much r...

Manager, India

Some Leaders are Reluctant to Communicate the Mission and Vision

Clear communication of the vision and mission is of utmost importance. People/organisations often have hidden agendas be...

  Nic Roest, Netherlands

The Cathedral Story is not about Selling!

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-...

Manager, Zimbabwe

Vision and the Story of the Stonemasons

This may be an old story, but I believe in what Vilma is trying to achieve in organizations. Workers must know the ulti...

  Carlos Barbera
CxO / Board, Spain

Communicating the Vision and Mission is One Thing; ENGAGING is Another!

I fully agree with the message of the story, to communicate the mission and vision properly is important. But convincing...

Manager, India

The Cathedral and the Importance of Communicating the Vision and Mission

A vision can be personal (set by a person for himself) or organizational (for an organization). For personal vision, an...

  Jack Martin Leith
Management Consultant, United Kingdom

Parable of the Stonemasons

Thanks for publishing this story. I mention it briefly in my five-minute Ignite Bristol talk, Enriching the world: is it...

  Raphael Gichora Mugo
Manager, Kenya

Communicating Vision and Mission

Here is an example of a complex subject discussed in a simple way. Thank you for the story and thanks to all who have co...

  Jaap de Jonge
Editor, Netherlands

Powerful Story About the Stone Masons and the Cathedral

@Raphael Gichora Mugo: Indeed stories are known to have the ability to communicate complex ideas or things in a simple a...

Director, Zimbabwe

The Leader's Role in Communicating the Vision and Mission

The HR (psychological) part of leadership is one of the most difficult tasks. A motivated and engaged employee is more r...

  Daniel Jarvis, United States

There are also other Motivational Approaches...

This parabel exhibits paramount points to create synergy within an organization by illuminating the importance of making...

  Charles Alter
Consultant, United States

Envisioned Future

Jim Collins says a vision must be a longterm Envisioned Future, not just a short-term concept of where an organization i...

  Pat Hannon
Lecturer, Ireland

How Good are we at Communicating the Vision and Mission to Stakeholders?

The vision is the foundation for the mission. Forming an effective mission (which should be visionary) needs a high degr...

  Gandhi Heryanto
Management Consultant, Indonesia

Excuses for not Having Clear Vision and Mission

I quote what was said by Jack Welch, GE's chairman:
"Good business leaders create a vision, articulate the...


Benefits of Clarity of Purpose in the Vision and Mission Statements

Whenever the vision statement is simplified and properly communicated to the team and workforce timely, the result is al...

  Elias Mhegera
Journalist, Tanzania

The Cathedral and the Importance of Communicating the Vision and Mission

Probably that is true but in the Tanzanian context I would think that even if the vision and mission are there, a hungry...

  Tom Wilson
HR Consultant, United States

The Mission is the Means to Achieving the Vision

I am reminded of the old project management joke:
"When you are up to your eyeballs in alligators, it is h...

  Mohammad Hossein Rohani
Teacher, Iran

Combination of QWL and the Vision

Of course, the communication of the vision and mission is really important. At least at the level of middle managers and...

Strategy Consultant, Benin

Who Told Me That we Were Building a Cathedral?

That is an excellent story, describing realistic situations that whow the ways we understand our organization's goals an...

  Jack Blanc, Peru

The Cathedral and the Vision

The three workers will all eventually finish their job. But the three of them will put a different amount of effort in i...

Interim Manager, Ethiopia

On the Relevance of Management Communication

You know, sometimes I see people coming to office each day and simply waiting for the last minute to go out and I ask my...

  Hermann Doppler
Consultant, Germany

Story is Basis for 3 Perspectives

The stone workers story was exemplary to me for years. I know it by Peter Drucker and Fredmund Malik who was a Student o...

  Tom Wilson
HR Consultant, United States

Obligations of Management for the Received Value of the Worker's Opportunity Costs

@abebe kebede: F.W. Taylor disdained of the worker who just "soldiered on' day after day, without the spark of enthusias...

  Emmanuel Mwirichia
Manager, Kenya

Help the Employees Help You

In order for each employee to feel like their work is valued a lot, it is important for the leaders/managers to constant...

Entrepreneur, Germany

Communicating the Vision Requires PASSION so it is Inspiring..

@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...

Coach, France

The Stone Carvers Parable: The First Stone Carver

The Stone Carvers Parable has been a simple, direct and powerful eye-opener for many in my consultancy and coaching work...

  Tom Wilson
HR Consultant, United States

The Leader and the Player and Management's Ego Need for Followers

@Hermann Doppler: I like your observation very much. The three men could be seen as players on the same team, each supp...

  Mirza Fareed Beg
Management Consultant, Pakistan

Vision Begets Mission and Then Mission Needs Vision (Direction)

Tom Wilson has rightly @said that the mission grows out of the vision. This view is also held by a large number of manag...

  Okorie Emmanuel
Manager, Nigeria

Communication at the Workplace and Mentality of Workers Towards their Work

The story, whether true or fiction clearly shows the mentality of workers towards their work based on their understandin...

  Jose A. De las Rivas
Management Consultant, Spain

Mision and Vision Communication at Workplace

But what we're talking about: employee engagement? And what about the commitment of leaders, managers and directors who ...

  Tom Wilson
HR Consultant, United States

When Vision Becomes the Mission, the Mission Needs a Vision

@Mirza Fareed Beg: I think you have it about right. The entrepreneur has a vision of a widget and his mission is, first,...

  Carlos Barbera
CxO / Board, Spain

Mission and Vision Communications in an Environment of Problems

@Jose A. De las Rivas: You are right Jose Antonio, leaders of the project or company are the first goal of communication...

  Charles Alter
Consultant, United States

Vision & Core Values

@Carlos Barbera: The dilemma is that lofty Visions and Missions are lost during the stress of crisis management, which i...

  Wayne Faison, United States

The Difference Between Vision and Mission

This is a great story that reminds me of what I've always been taught concerning the difference between vision and missi...

Interim Manager, Ethiopia

Vision Communication

@Tom Wilson: if we are looking into what has actually been happening in most of the private companies today, some employ...

  Tom Wilson
HR Consultant, United States

There Is, Indeed, a Lack of Stewardship in Corporate Leadership

@abebe kebede: I agree completely, Most of what is put out by CEOs as vision statements are self-serving justifications...

  Jose A. De las Rivas
Management Consultant, Spain

Mission, Vision and Core Values

@Carlos Barbera: Thanks Carlos, but I think that not only is a particular problem of the crisis in Spain but rather apro...

  John Sunderland
HR Consultant, United Kingdom

Lack of Trust is the Real Problem

This is a very unlikely scenario - didn't medieval cathedral builders actually have a strong collective vision? OK maybe...

  Mohamed Tantawi
Marketing Manager, Egypt

Thank you for Reminding us about this Great Story

Thank you very much. I read this before, think it was mentioned in The 7 habits by Steven Covey... Anyway, I was happy t...

  Leena Bissoonauth
Student (University), Mauritius

Communicating Mission & Vision

This story shows how these three workers are reacting differently. Stories are indeed what shapes the employees' behavi...

Project Manager, Zimbabwe

We Need Communication plus Ownership of Vision and Mission

The story is good but I agree with @alvarez-pereyre that it's not only communication that makes the team work accordingl...

  salem ahmed
Teacher, Yemen

Is there a Match between an Individual's Expectations and the Organization's Expectations?

For the question: How and when are individuals committed to the vision of organization, I recommend to pay attention to ...

  Augustine T. Mansaray
Analyst, Sierra Leone

The Mission is the Means to Achieve the Vision

@Tom Wilson: I totally agree with your take on this subject especially in situations where motivation is mostly driven b...

  Tom Wilson
HR Consultant, United States

On Capitol Hill, the Mission is All for Staffers

@Augustine T. Mansaray: I responded in another forum about Capitol Hill staffers being deferred from Obamacare. I have ...

Manager, India

Reaction to Vision and Mission Differs per Individual

In continuation of my earlier submission my view is that each one is working / doing the duty as per his / her motivatio...

  Richard Mariwa

Communicating Vision, Mission and Values

Most organisations have elaborate vision and mission statements stated in glossy strategic agenda documents but the link...

  Tom Wilson
HR Consultant, United States

Communicating Motivation

@Richard Mariwa: Richard, I tend to agree with Venkatesh: the metrics for motivation is different for each stone mason a...

Coach, France

Communicating Motivation

@Tom Wilson: I would fully agree that the existential value of one is not higher or lower than that of any other stone ...

  Gary Stead
Director, United Kingdom

People on a Mission

Great story and insightful comments. So how about our stonemason - is he a target (to sell our vision to or to motivate ...


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