“Do you want to spend the rest of your life selling sugared water or do you want to change the world?” -Steve Jobs
I want you to gather the image of a glass of water in your mind. Picture that glass sitting on a table. Now imagine yourself walking around that table taking in the entirety of that simple glass of water. Imagine yourself taking in its clarity, its weight, and its volume. See how, even through its transparency, it fills the glass. It is clear, yet abundantly visible.
As you circle the table, look at how the glass holds and supports the life-sustaining water that sits within it. See how the glass not only supports and holds, but provides clarity to the level of water that it is holding.
Now imagine that life-sustaining water as your vision and the glass that holds it as your culture.
When the culture is good, it cups and embraces the vision. Its transparency and clarity provides everyone full access to how full or empty that vision may or may not be and the heavy lifting that will be required to hold the full weight of that glass and it’s contents.
Now imagine that glass to be discolored and opaque. The water within murky and cloudy. As you circle that glass, the transparency and clarity are no longer present. It is no longer easy to determine the level of the content within and what will be required to lift the glass. It’s contents no longer feel healthy or sustaining.
Far too often, our visions and cultures become cloudy and opaque when politics and personal agendas muddy the waters and close off our cultures to the clarity of the vision.
Now imagine putting out your hand and lifting that glass and having it slip through your fingers and watching it smash suddenly to the ground. Shards of glass smashed, splintered and splattered across the cement. The contents of that glass spilling and spreading out across the ground. It’s volume and weight dissipating and dissolving as it dampens the ground.
At its worst, some cultures are broken and fractured, unable to hold or embrace a vision. When the culture is broken, the vision leaks out and spreads thin. It has no volume or weight. It has little or no effect, eventually dissipating and dissolving away.
It is not enough to have water if you don’t have a glass to hold it, as it is not enough to have a glass if you have no water to fill it with. To give your work volume and weight, you must make sure that there is transparency and clarity to both the culture and the vision.
Transparency provides a sense of trust and authenticity. Just as clarity endears a sense of commitment. Great organizations understand that it takes a strong culture to embrace the vision, and a moving vision to fill the culture.
It is never an either-or proposition.
It will always be about AND.