31 Jan '13
The dysfunction of ambiguity
Where there is not a high degree of clarity around who we are and where we are going, it is very difficult to know how to make good decisions (based on what?) or to know how to focus one's efforts. One of the main jobs, if not the most important job of a leader is to bring clarity to those he or she leads on what the organization is all about and how it will function.
Ambiguity is ubiquitous in ministry organizations. Often our mission is so broad that it cannot be quantified and our values so general that they cannot really be used to define who we are and how they impact the day-to-day activities of the ministry. Most ministries have never defined the central ministry focus that they must concentrate on day in and day out if they are going to have maximum impact. And it is rare to find a ministry that has thoughtfully and carefully defined the culture that they are committed to intentionally create for the health of the organization.
Ambiguity around these core issues makes it very difficult to achieve any kind of significant organizational alignment because one does not have anything with which to align. It also means that team members can claim to be in alignment whether or not they are because the alignment mechanism is so loose.
On the other hand, it is deeply refreshing to find organizations that are crystal clear about who they are, where they are going, the central ministry focus they must have, and the culture they are creating. Where you find this clarity, you also find highly motivated and focused team members who, because of the organizational clarity, have great personal clarity as well. Getting to clarity is hard work but it is some of the most important work that leaders will do and it has a huge impact on the organization's ability to see true results.