Create a Crisis – Part 2

Last week I posted Part 1 of Create a Crisis where I shared how our team creates a “Thematic Goal” every year.  Today, I thought I would share more about the process we go through in creating our thematic goal.

The concept for creating a thematic goal is easy to understand and get excited about, but creating the thematic goal for your organization is more challenging… and living it out is even more challenging.

One of the key things I’ve learned about creating a thematic goal is that if you can’t quickly understand it and repeat it, it’s not going to work.  Simply put: KEEP IT SIMPLE!  It was very easy for me to ramble on about what I wanted to accomplish with our thematic goal this year, but putting it into an easily digestible phrase was another matter.  I literally agonized over this for a couple of months.  Let me assure you, creating a thematic goal is NOT easy.  It takes tremendous planning and processing to come up with something that you can clearly articulate, that can be grasped and repeated by your team and that you can reinforce repeatedly throughout the organization all year long.

I’m currently reading a great book called Leading Change by John P. Kotter.  In the chapter entitled “Communicating the Change Vision”, Kotter shares a list of key elements in effective communication of vision which I believe have great application to creating and communicating a thematic goal.

Simplicity: All jargon and technobable must be eliminated

Metaphor, analogy, and example: A verbal picture is worth a thousand words.

Multiple forums: Big meetings and small, memos and newspapers, formal and informal interaction – all are effective for spreading the word.

Repetition: Ideas sink in deeply only after they have been heard many times.

Leadership by example: Behavior from important people that is inconsistent with the vision overwhelms other forms of communication.

Explanation of seeming inconsistencies: Unaddressed inconsistencies undermine the credibility of all communication.

Give-and-take: Two-way communication is always more powerful than one-way communication.

These elements have become the guide rails for me as I’ve put my ideas for a thematic goal on paper.  Making it understandable, repeatable and FUN were critical for me in creating a goal that I could enthusiastically communicate to my team.

In Part 3 I’ll share our 2009 Thematic Goal, how it’s working so far and how we plan to weave it into the fabric of our staff culture!

You may also like


  • JeffB February 16, 2009  

    great post. Leading Change was required reading in our M.B.A. program. I found the concepts very similar to 7 Practices of Effective ministry by Stanley and Joiner.

  • Rachel February 17, 2009  

    great stuff here!! Thanks for sharing.

  • Pingback: Create a Crisis - Part 3 « February 24, 2009