THQ Role Examined In Vision Quest

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by Lt. Colonel Raymond Peacock –
Secretary for Program

While being uncompromising in the basics of our faith, we will seek to be attuned to the time, to the place and to the people…

“Organizations send signals to people. Signals that guide them day by day.” So reminds N. Dean Meyer, organizational consultant. He also says, “Vision statements are popular, but frequently are of little value. Vague inspirational mottoes that promise a glowing future have minimal impact. They don’t tell people precisely what is expected of them.” But, he also adds, “The most powerful way to portray a clear vision is through a set of specific expectations–the things the organization must do to succeed.”

The territorial commander has just presented our new territorial vision statement. So, it is neither nice nor timely to suggest vision statements are of little value and have minimal impact. But, is it possible I am just saying what some are thinking? We hear all this talk about vision and change, but what will THQ really do to facilitate change and help us implement our local visions?

Change is never easy. It’s broken down into answering three questions: Where are we? Where do we want to go? How are we going to get there? This territory, bottom-up, has invested considerable effort into answering the first two questions and is about to undertake answering the third. The largest ever territorial survey conducted in April of 1998 helped us answer “where we are,” what makes us happy and what makes us dissatisfied–the “now” question. In 1999, corps dreamed their future and wrote corps vision statements. The Guiding Coalition collected over 300 of these corps visions and formed the Territorial Vision Statement, which answers the second question about our destination, “where are we going”–the “then” question. We are not done yet. We have one further question to answer, “how do we get there”–the “bridging” question. Bridging strategies, goals and plans, are needed to move us from “now” to “then” and thus to implementation of the vision.

What is THQ doing to facilitate change and help corps implement local visions? Two immediate actions come to mind. The first is the creation and distribution of a bridging guide called “Preparing for the Harvest ­ Vision Action Planning Guide.” This is a guide given to all corps officers to turn your corps vision statements into action. Each and every corps is to outline specific goals and action steps that relate to the top three priorities in your vision statement. This is to be done between late September and mid-November. There is an increasing realization that all corps are not the same, that each corps will have its own profile. Indeed, some corps may become a “locus of influence,” teaching and modeling best practices for other corps. For those looking for change, read this paragraph again.

The second action THQ will conduct to facilitate change centers around the upcoming THQ Officers’ Councils. The theme will be “Leading the Change.” THQ officers will be asked to look at three questions: What is actionable? How must we change the way we do business at THQ as a result of our territorial vision statement? What process will we use to accomplish all this? The answers will also be part of a plan or bridging strategy to get us from now to then.

For some, I’m sure, we are not moving fast enough. They want answers now to questions like how the decision making process will be changed, how people will be empowered to do ministry, how accountability will be applied, and what new processes and procedures will emerge. Keep in mind if it is macro change you are seeking, force of habit does not go away quickly. Leadership still needs time to talk it through, to be challenged to think about and clarify the changes our new vision statement portends. Specificity is on the horizon, but not yet in sight. We are at step two and need to take step three before we have long awaited answers. Those fed up with quick fixes and silver bullet solutions welcome this more thoughtful and participatory approach.

We mustn’t forget, either, the valuable role the Territorial Guiding Coalition has played in bringing us through step two successfully. They will be reconvened to make their own contribution to step three, strategic planning. Every bit as important as the Guiding Coalition’s action is the similar action taking place at your corps these next few months. Why? Because the new focus is on the front lines.

Six to eight months from now we should have a strategic plan that sends the right signals, not mixed signals, and grants officers, soldiers, employees, and advisory organization members new freedom to do ministry. There should be clarity regarding the making of independent decisions while still maintaining adequate but not abundant coordination and control. As Song 804 says, “Ho, my comrades, see the signal!” Specificity straight ahead!

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