On my morning walk today, I saw a centipede for the first time in many years. For those of you with different fauna in your community, a centipede looks a lot like a worm but has (roughly) a hundred legs. As I walked by on my two legs, I thought about how the centipede’s legs must all move in the same direction and the same speed in order for the centipede to move forward. If any leg is out of sync, the centipede will move more slowly, double up on itself, or turn in a different direction.
And yet it moves along, doing all of this in a coordinated way without any conscious thinking!
My metaphor, of course, is the organization - hundreds of people trying to move the organization forward. How can we stay coordinated and ensure that we are all moving in the same direction? Clear understanding of the vision of the organization and a clear line of sight from our individual actions and objectives to the organization vision are key. If you don’t understand the organizational vision and objectives or how your work is tied to the vision, find out! If you are a manager, proactively ask this question of your teams. Few actions will have as much impact.