The Greater Ambition: Review of Vol. III
In my work with boards and leadership teams looking to reshape their mission, vision and values, what always occurs is a thoughtful debate about vision – the one cultural element out of the three that is uniquely owned by the highest level of an organization. Who do we want to be and what impact do we want to have versus who can we be and what impact realistically can we have on the world? It’s a tense discussion over how far to set the horizon, over how high to set the bar.
Alzheimer’s Association has a lofty vision – “A world without Alzheimer’s Disease.” It’s one of my favorites. You might argue that their goals are too lofty, the timeline too vast for the average employee to feel it possible. On the other hand, if I work for them, I wake up every day knowing exactly what my organization’s great ambition is – and therefore where my compass is pointed. If I am a leader there, I make decisions through the lens of, “Will this lead even in a small way to eradicating the disease?”
That’s what vision must be. It’s a beacon of light guiding ships small and large across a vast ocean. Even when the waters are roughest and the environment so uncertain you think you may sink, vision unites and calls an organization to make the right decisions – sometimes the hardest decisions – to weather the storm.
Healthcare craves vision. Mission is generally quite clear – most people got into the industry because we want to heal, to make people better. Vision is different. It’s the higher purpose, the greater ambition – only achievable if every employee and physician is rowing in the same direction. And in a sea of change for health systems everywhere, it’s the beacon of light that helps everyone understand why evolving now in difficult and exhilarating ways will be worth it.