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Welcome to the November 2010 issue of Alignment Solutions! Here’s what’s going on:

  • Can you use some help in setting priorities and allocating scarce resources? If
    so, we invite you to take a look at our free tool that can guide you through that process, Pat Lynch’s Process for Prioritizing Organizational Services and Programs. This two-page document walks you through the steps that allow you to identify priorities in a systematic, defensible, and objective way. Check it out and let us know what you think!

  • For those who would like an in-depth explanation of how to allocate scarce resources, and/or would like the opportunity to ask questions about your own situation, we will be conducting a teleseminar on this topic in December. Watch for an announcement with the details!

This month’s theme is creating expansive “big pictures.” Executives and business owners often inadvertently short-change their customers and stakeholders because they are operating according to their perceptions of the organization’s potential instead of its true potential. This month you can find out what to do if you are holding your organization – and yourself – back by unnecessarily limiting your vision of the future.

The Feature Article, “Is Your Organization Living Up To Its True Potential?” makes the case that most organizations fall short in providing the value they are capable of producing. It distinguishes between perceived potential and true potential, and illustrates how failure to make this distinction dramatically affects the limits to organizational success.

In “How to Ensure Your Organization Lives Up To Its True Potential,” the Business Solutions section lists six steps leaders can take to help set their organizations up for success by correctly identifying the value they are capable of providing.

In the Personal Solutions section, “Let Your Light Shine by Living Up To Your True Potential” identifies potential obstacles to individuals’ ability to identify their personal “big pictures” and lists six steps to overcoming them. 

I invite you to visit my web site at and my blog at to find other articles and resources that may be of value to you and your colleagues. I welcome your feedback!

Do you know someone who could benefit from the value we provide? If so, let’s create a win-win-win situation! Contact us about how we can make this happen.

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Is Your Organization Living Up to Its True Potential?

Is your organization shortchanging its stakeholders? Unless it is living up to its true potential, the answer is “yes.” Even successful organizations fall short of providing the value they are capable of producing if they are merely living up to their perceived potential rather than their true potential.

Here’s an example of the difference between perceived potential and true potential. Recently I facilitated a strategy session for an organization that provides a safe shelter and services for women who have been abused. Although the organization has done wonderful work and previously had articulated an inspiring vision, the Executive Director and board members came to the session focused on answering a single question: “How can we ensure enough funding this year to keep the lights on?” They were so preoccupied with the presumed negative effects of the recession on their organization that they were unable to see beyond the narrow constraints that such a “survival” mentality imposed. This very limited view of their perceived potential was a disservice to the people who desperately want and need their help – and to other stakeholders as well. By helping them re-focus on their vision, we were able to identify clearly the organization’s true potential: to break the cycle of poverty that traps women who are abused. As a result, participants left the session at the end of the day electrified by the possibilities they had envisioned for the organization.

While the environmental constraints didn’t change, the leaders’ focus did. Although the challenging economic environment may delay the achievement of all the goals, the point is that once these leaders recognized the exponentially bigger picture, they were able to identify ways that their organization can have a profound, positive influence on their clients and their community. They have re-claimed their vision and are using it to inspire donors and volunteers to join their efforts and champion their cause.

This example of falling back into a defensive posture is typical of organizations in all sectors that are faced with volatility and uncertainty. Especially in economically challenging times, many leaders tend to retreat from the storm rather than head resolutely into it, seeking the opportunities it provides. Here’s why: their limiting beliefs and expectations cause them to think and act in very narrow, “safe,” comfortable ways instead of enabling them to view the organization’s potential as expansively as possible and act accordingly. This perspective constrains the organization’s ability to optimize its available talent and delight its customers. While retreating from the storm is a very human reaction, it can have deadly consequences – e.g., people and organizations become paralyzed with fear, focusing on the myriad of “What if…?” questions instead of asking “How can we…?” When the organization’s perception of its potential is limited, the value it offers is a fraction of what it is capable of providing.

Here are some questions for you:

  1. What is your organization’s true potential?
  2. How can your organization’s leaders embrace the opportunities that present themselves?
  3. How will you help your organization reach those who desperately need and want its help?

For suggestions about how to begin to answer these questions, please see our article How to Ensure Your Organization Lives Up to Its True Potential.

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How to Ensure Your Organization Lives Up to Its True Potential

Organizations often shortchange their stakeholders because they (the organizations) fail to live up to their true potential. “True potential” has its foundation in an expansive vision of what the organization is able to do, as opposed to the more limited or narrow view that is its perceived potential. Here are two examples that illustrate the dramatic differences between perceived potential and true potential:

Perceived potential: Deliver packages
True potential: Sustainably connect people and places and improve the quality of life around the world (FedEx)
Perceived potential: Help children and their families recover from natural and man-made disasters around the world
True potential: A world in which every child attains the right to survival, protection, development, and participation (Save the Children)

Here are six steps you can take to ensure your organization lives up to its true potential:

1. Ditch the “survival” mentality.
Organizations whose leaders fail to do this may survive, but they cannot possibly thrive because they are seeking the wrong outcome.

2. Create a crystal clear “big picture.”
The “big picture” is the impact the organization will make. To help identify this impact correctly, answer this question: “How will your clients or customers be better off when the organization is acting in alignment with its true potential?”

3. Communicate the “big picture” widely.
Leaders must operationalize the vision – i.e., what does it look, sound, feel, taste, smell like? All stakeholders need to know what the “big picture” looks like so they can understand fully what their roles must be.

4. Make the first sale to yourself.
Not only must leaders fully embrace the big picture, they truly must believe the organization has a moral imperative to provide its value to people who desperately want and need it.

5. Align all people, programs, processes, and systems to the “big picture.”
The infrastructure must support the vision. Focus relentlessly on the “big picture” when making decisions, setting priorities, and allocating resources. Things that do not contribute to achievement of the vision should be jettisoned.

6. Celebrate success.
Identify realistic measures and guideposts that enable you to recognize both progress and achievement. Keep the momentum going by appreciating efforts to live up to the organization’s true potential.

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Let Your Light Shine by Living Up to Your True Potential

What are the things you are most passionate about in life? What would it be like if those things played a prominent role in your life every day? In what ways would the world, your community, your family, and you be better off if you were able to let your light shine?

Just as organizations often fail to see their true potential – i.e., the expansive vision of what they can achieve vs. the more common limited view – so do most individuals. Even “successful” people often have unrealized potential that they fail to see and/or acknowledge. Here are some examples of obstacles that prevent individuals from seeing what they really are capable of contributing:

  • They are not used to thinking in expansive terms, especially when it comes to their own abilities.
  • In some cultures, behaviors that are viewed as self-promoting are frowned upon.
  • They have limiting beliefs that block their view.
  • They have bought into the low expectations of themselves and others.

Here are six steps you can take to help you go beyond your perceived potential and see clearly your true potential:

1. Make the first sale to yourself.
You truly must believe that you have a moral imperative to share your talents with those who desperately want and need the value only you can provide.

2. Think really big, then triple that view.
Push the boundaries of your comfort zone. Follow the lead of one of my colleagues, Phil Symchych, who has resolved to “become comfortable with being uncomfortable” because he knows growth occurs only when we have pushed ourselves beyond our perceived boundaries.

3. Get the necessary support to help you envision and implement your personal “big picture.”
Ask for what you want and need. Surround yourself with those who believe in your ability to achieve your vision; jettison the naysayers. (If the latter are family members, minimize the time you spend with them.)

4. Keep your eye on the big picture.
It’s so easy to get caught up in the minutiae of daily life. Your vision is your touchstone; return to it often.

5. Align everything you do to your big picture.
Focus relentlessly on the big picture when making decisions, setting priorities, and allocating resources. Things that do not contribute to achievement of the vision should be jettisoned.

6. Celebrate success.
Living one’s passion is an on-going journey, not an event. It’s important to identify realistic measures and guideposts that enable you to recognize your progress as well as your achievements.

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Date of Publication: November 2010 | 562.985.0333
Copyright 2010 © - All rights reserved, Pat Lynch