In this article, my intention is to stimulate your interest in going below the surface to answer some uncomfortable questions. To start us off, what is your vision for success? Everyone desires to be successful but are you clear on what you want to achieve as a person, company, a nation or as people?
If the answer is no, then there is no amount of assistance or support that can help you achieve what you do not know.
Asking the right kinds of questions is at the heart of defining and achieving your vision for success. “Good leaders come up with answers, but great leaders ask the right questions.” said Jim Collins, the author of Good to Great. I have come to give much value to questions than answers for the simple reason that they send our brains to work and cause us to move and to grow.
I recall an incident in 2012, during one meeting regarding an independent evaluation for the pilot phase (2007-2012) of the One UN Reform in Rwanda. For those who might not know, UN Reform was introduced to make the UN interventions work better, reduce duplication, increase coherence and reduce transaction cost. Key indicators and targets of the reform were presented as achieved and the conclusion was that the UN Reform strategy is the way to go.
In the audience were staff from various UN agencies, the Government and Civil Society Organizations. During Q&A session, a staff from the Ministry of Finance and Economic Planning (MINECOFIN) made a very important observation.
The gentleman said, “Thank you for a very comprehensive and positive presentation. However, as far as I can recall, the main aim of the UN Reform was to increase efficiency and reduce transaction costs. From your presentation, I see no empirical evidence to this fact”.
The room went silent because it was true, there was no supporting evidence to the claim that the UN was now more efficient than before in terms of cost reduction.
The UN experts left the meeting challenged and ready to respond to the comment. At the time, there was no transaction cost log framework from which to report.
As part of the UN reform pillars backed by the need to respond to the challenging comment, the UN System in Rwanda, developed a five-year (2013-2018) Business Operations Strategy (BOS) which targeted to achieve a transaction cost reduction of about $ 15millions.
Fast forward to 2015, Rwanda was one of the leading countries in the implementation of the BOS. In his interview with CNBC Africa, Lamin Manneh the United Nations Resident Coordinator in Rwanda, affirmed that the UN System in Rwanda is on track to reduce the traction costs as planned.
When he was asked to give his thoughts and reasons why Rwanda is leading in this reform, his first response was that Paul Kagame, the President of Rwanda, was and remains the champion of the UN reform.
Besides the UN agencies, I also observed the process that International Non-Governmental Organizations (INGO) wishing to operate in Rwanda go through. Before they are allowed to start operations they must submit a paper demonstrating how their interventions fit into the country’s Vision 2020, Economic Development and Poverty Reduction Strategy (EDPRS) and Community Development Programmes. Those coming to help must understand the country’s vision. Drawing from these examples I came up with two conclusions;
1. Everyone should have a clear vision for their success. If your mental picture of the future you want is not clear, no amount of donor aid, technical assistance or external interventions can help you get there! No one can and no one will, however much they want to help.
The Government knew how the “picture” for a successfully implemented UN Reform would look like in Rwanda. So when the presentation was done, there was something missing in the picture and it was easily spotted.
I am convinced that this is a life or death issue. The Bible readers will recall the scripture that says, “ Where there is no vision people perish”.
2. The vision for your success should be equally owned by your teammates.If the leader understands the vision but they are not enthusiastic about sharing the vision then that won’t help either. In the above example, it was not the president seated in that meeting, it was an MINECOFIN staff who pointed out crucial information that was missing in a most impressive and colorful presentation.
So, what does your vision/picture look like? Do you have one? Can you see it when you close your eyes? One of the things I have enjoyed and perhaps the most fulfilling moments in my career as a coach has been to help people find focus and clarity on what they want in their personal and professional lives.
Let me conclude with one of my favorite quotes from Loretta Staples, “If you are clear with what you want, the world responds with clarity”. I believe this is true!