Organizational Disconnect occurs when leadership, management and employees are seeing and operating at different levels of vision. The larger the organization the worse the problem can become.

30,000 Foot Level – Senior Executives, Leadership
The vision of the future is clear (or at least it should be!). Opportunities are easily seen and pitfalls can be spotted in advance. Details of where the rubber hits the road are more difficult to see.

10,000 Foot Level – Middle Managers, Senior Staff
The vision isn’t as clear as it is for those at the 30,000 foot level. However, they are able to see more of the details at the lower levels. They also serve as a connection point from the 500 foot level to the 30,000 foot level.

500 Foot Level – Employees
They see what is in front of them or at their desk. They know the details, the customers and the daily challenges but they can’t always connect the reality of the 500 foot level to the vision of the 30,000 foot level.

Organizational Disconnect – If the reality of what is happening in your market, with your customers, with your competitors or with your employees is not getting to the 30,000 foot level then you have a case of Organizational Disconnect Disorder (ODD). From the other perspective, if the vision and goals at the 30,000 foot level are not finding their way to the 500 foot level then you are experiencing the fallout of ODD.

What’s the disconnect?
It’s when your employees, who work at the ground level, don’t see a connection of their efforts to the vision of senior management or don’t even have a clue what the vision is. It’s when leadership makes decisions or takes actions at the 30,000 foot level, i.e., new policies, new products or services, acquisitions, new divisions or branches, new anything and they do it without getting in touch with the reality which occurs at 500 feet. In other words, shouting directives from the mountain top without having a finger on the pulse of reality at the 500-foot level. It’s when serious issues are boiling under the surface of the organization and senior executives and leadership can’t see it from 30,000 feet. By the time they do see it, the explosion has occurred and they’re left picking up the pieces and wondering what in the world went wrong… why didn’t someone say something?

How do you prevent ODD in your organization?
It begins with communication. Leaders at the 30,000 foot level must create a culture where sharing and receiving openly is accepted and encouraged. Too often employees are intimidated by senior managers, leaders and sometimes even their direct supervisor. The employee feels that if she brings up an issue it will be held against her or she will be perceived as a trouble maker. There are also cases when leaders and senior executives hesitate to share openly with each other, thinking it’s just an easier road to stay silent. They don’t want to rock the boat, so to speak. In reality the road is easier now but as time progresses the road will change and become more difficult because the underlying issues that have been ignored will not go away.

Make an effort, beginning today, to encourage those around you and within the organization to share and receive openly. In fact, this should be one of your non-negotiables.


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