Most large organizations are hierarchical consisting of multiple levels of management that have power over front line personnel. The vantage point from each rung on the hierarchical ladder is different in terms of vision, responsibility, and accountability.

In a perfect world the vision, mission and goals of an organization are clear to people at every level. Unfortunately, we don’t live in a perfect world. People at different levels may interpret words differently that is why ongoing communication is critically important especially when new people join the organization.

I recall making a decision with my executive team. I was the Director of Housing and Dining at a large mid-western university. We developed our carryout food service program in response to our students’ request. We wanted to provide good service at a reasonable cost. You guessed it; the word “reasonable” is open to interpretation. A wise person said that every solution creates another problem. The hope is that the benefit of the solution is greater than the new problem.

I discovered the problem by accident. While walking through campus residence halls I notice soda and milk spills on floors near door entries. I was going to talk with the custodial supervisor to find out why this was occurring. On my way to the supervisor’s office. I heard a custodian say “psst, should we tell him?” They were referring to me. They told me that students spilled beverages in Styrofoam cups when trying to balance them on top of food containers. They informed me that their unit heads told them I want to provide the carryout service at the lowest cost. Canned beverages were more expensive.  Ironically, I thought providing the service with canned beverages was reasonable, but left implementation decisions with those at the operational level.

At the next executive meeting we decided to switch to canned beverages. Although it cost a little more, the spill hazard was solved.

Bottom line, it’s hard to anticipate all of the consequences when a new idea is implemented, but once discovered make corrections and move forward. If everyone is doing his or her best to contribute to the vision mission and goals all is well. Live and learn. Change your thoughts, change your destiny!