May 10, 2004

No Vision May Leave Only Division

“In the absence of a vision, we are each driven by our own agenda, finding people whose interests match ours, and inattentive to those with who we appear to have little in common. We automatically judge our players, workers, and loved ones against our standards, inadvertently pulling the wind from their sails.”
—Rosamund Stone Zander and Benjamin Zander,The Art of Possibility

Where is the shared vision that unites our diverse country and keeps us from becoming nothing more than an aggregate of isolated special interests? Current marketing tools have become so sophisticated that a candidate for office can slice and dice readily available public data about me and tailor an appeal that matches my own self interests without ever trying to connect me to a greater good.

Sure, all politics may be local, but we are still a national community, a collective. I find it ironic and a bit sad that the European Union is expanding and bringing in ever more diverse nation states at a time when our own nation statistically seems more divided than ever before.

So much attention is being paid to community with a lowercase-c that we are losing sight of the importance of Community with a capital-C. And it is not just true of the United States as a country, it is occurring in almost every profession and industry. As specialization becomes more and more common, individuals often no longer identify themselves with the more general discipline. While it is only appropriate to offer special services for specialized interests, if we fail to build the larger Community and a connection to the discipline or indtsury overall, specialization could quickly deteriorate into isolation and fragmentation.

And as we interact with more and more people who share our perhaps narrow and more closely held interests, the broader ideas and passions that might unite us in a more global vision might begin to seem distant and not worth pursuing.

What are you doing in your organization to bind people together in both community and Community? How can you honor the needs that result from specialization while avoiding the costs that occur from fragmentation?

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