Great organizations, cities or countries, and people share something not found among the mediocre—a dream. It is powerful dreams that inspire and create unique levels of inspiration. This is true for institutions, communities, great athletes and performers and for leaders—and you and me.
A dream is not the same as the trite “Mission, Vision and Values” statements favored by so many organizations. Nor is it a traditional “strategic plan”. A dream is a greater order of magnitude—it is a bold statement of how we are going to make a difference in the world, what new frontier we are going to establish, how we will redefine the game we play, the new standards we will set, and what we will do to light fires in the imaginations and hearts of all those we touch. It defines our planned transformation.
There are crucial and inspiring reasons why it is important to raise the bar from the traditional but tired methodologies to what we call, ONE Dream®:
- In most organizations, few people can articulate their Mission Statement….and if you can’t remember it, how can you live it?
- When Gandhi was asked to define his mission, he replied, “I don’t have a mission—my life is my mission”. Mission Statements are usually created by committees who strive to please all participants—no great game-changer in history would have settled for this mediocrity.
- If we gathered all the Mission Statements from a sample group of organizations and randomly shuffled and then returned them, most would probably not be able to tell if they received their own or not. That’s because Mission Statements tend to have a bland sameness about them—change chocolate factory to cheese factory, and, Voila!—you have your new Mission Statement. And so, for most people, the majority of organizations and communities look and feel the same.
The underpinning concept that fuels a dream is passion and the ability to ignite this passion in the hearts of employees, customers, vendors, constituents—all of those upon whom we depend for our success—to achieve something extraordinary—such as a dream. Not a five percent increase in market share or a ten percent return on equity, or “exceeding customer needs”—but a bold, daring, impudent, audacious, outrageous, thrilling, exhilarating and inspiring dream.
We are in a new era in which people want something more inspiring than a Mission Statement—something that gathers the energy of organizations into a compelling, exciting and energizing future and this does not fit easily under the heading of “mission, vision, and values”. A much larger container is needed to hold a magnificent idea. We need a dream—a new way of positioning businesses, teams, cities, communities, countries—and individuals, so that they can become reinvigorated, inspired and passionate again.
Over thirty years at The Secretan Center, we have discovered that the common, unifying experience among winning teams, great endeavors and extraordinary achievements— is a dream. A dream is the uniqueness that can be found in groups of people who achieve the extraordinary—creating revolutions, overthrowing despots, founding nations (or fusing them into one), climbing mountains, reinventing organizations, creating breakthroughs, building something extraordinary or changing the way we live or think or how the world works. It is true of organizations, sports teams, film crews, orchestras, states, cities, countries—and families.
All great historical leaders—Christ, Buddha, Lao-Tzu, Confucius, Mohammed, Nelson Mandela, Mother Teresa, Martin Luther King, Jr., among them—all had a dream. In his famous speech delivered on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington D.C. on August 28, 1963, Martin Luther King repeated “I have a dream…” eight times. It was his ability to articulate his dream that united thousands of people and inspired them to usher in a new era in civil rights and liberties.
Dreams are like that—they have the power within them to change the world.
Clients that embraced the ONE Dream® process
In order to understand the power of modern leadership to transform organizations, communities, countries or the world, we must understand and harness the power of the dream.
The proprietary ONE Dream® process developed by The Secretan Center consists of three phases:
- Identifying the dream
- Realizing the dream, and
- Sustaining the dream.
We invite leaders to first identify, then believe in the dream, to assume that the dream is realizable and assume that when the energies of their entire organization are harnessed behind that dream, it will be achieved. A community of 500,000 citizens, or an organization with 10,000 employees—and a dream—that harnesses the combined energy of every employee behind that dream, creates the opportunity to achieve it!
It is remarkable what happens when leaders are invited to focus on describing a dream, when they identify their most extraordinary, outrageous, never-before-achieved aspirations, when they are fearless and imaginative, thinking outside the box, being truly outrageous and boldly creative. Leaders among our clients have come up with some remarkable ideas—hospitals who dream of eliminating all avoidable deaths, banks who dream of changing the world, corporations who dream of becoming champions of the environment, communities who dream of becoming world-class centers of excellence and innovation, insurance companies who dream of making the world more healthy, cities who dream of becoming the idea capital of the world and states or provinces who want to be a magnet for the world. Humana Inc. (73 on Fortune’s 100 List) found the power of the ONE Dream® we designed for them to be so extraordinary and transformational, that they helped to underwrite the same process for the city in which they are headquartered—Louisville, Kentucky.
The Secretan Center has developed a breakthrough system that invites leaders to identify, realize and sustain their dreams—their most extraordinary, outrageous, never-before-achieved aspirations. We ask them to be fearless and imaginative, to be outrageous and extraordinarily creative. We call it the ONE Dream® Process.
Many people have subjective views about what an ambitious corporate aspiration should look like. But it is dangerous to make such momentous decisions on the basis of “hunch”, prejudice, bias or majority vote. Many leadership decisions—across sectors and issues—are made largely by intuition, or “gut instinct”. They are, in the end, intelligently derived “best guesses”. Leaders will then use tools such as traditional market research and the opinions of those around them to validate their best guesses, even though these methods are often demonstrably flawed.
Traditional Mission Statements sometimes rely on research and often on committee alignment—managers feel it is important to incorporate all of the opinions and needs of internal constituents so they are represented in the final outcome. But this often results in “vanilla” statements that become bland because they have been massaged endlessly to meet everyone’s needs.
There is really only one objective need to consider, which we call “Permission Space”, defined as “the strength and direction of the energy that will be freely offered by all constituents (employees [and their partners], customers, competitors, unions, media, government, politicians, opinion formers and thought leaders) to help you achieve your ONE Dream®”. No dream can be achieved unless it has the permission of all constituents. Or, putting it the other way, realizing a dream is ensured when we identify and capitalize on the available “permission space”.
This first step of identifying “Permission Space” is essential because it is the rigorous and scientifically sound foundation on which the ONE Dream® will be built and which, in turn, will lead to a carefully crafted plan for change.
We determine Permission Space through the use of recent advances in the behavioral sciences, holography and logic/mathematics—a system called Scientific Intelligence, a unique research approach, which does not use conventional research methodology, because its intent is to gather different data. Conventional research methodology accesses data which is infused with subjective input from respondents because it is obtained from the conscious mind. Scientific Intelligence flies below the radar of the conscious mind and therefore accesses data that lies beneath this level of awareness.
Scientific Intelligence’s formula for enabling organizations to identify the “permission space” is designed to uncover:
- A clear picture of the energy that is freely available from all relevant constituencies, which can be used to support and power the ONE Dream®.
- A deep and certain understanding of marketplace and community needs
- Comprehensive yet focused planning based on marketplace and community insights
- Successful and sustainable implementation
- A clear picture of activities or lines of business or strategies that should be terminated because there is no “permission space” for them
- A plan for how the organization will need to adapt in order to realize and then sustain the ONE Dream®
Using our proprietary new research methodology, we can identify this “permission space”—quite literally the core “DNA” of an issue—and therefore the platform upon which the ONE Dream® can rest—and the key drivers of success that will propel the organization or community towards that ONE Dream®.
The unique advantage of the Scientific Intelligence process is its ability to bypass the unconscious filters that often lead respondents to give false or skewed answers—one of the reasons that Mission Statements are frequently so weak. This methodology works on the principle that the public mind has a very specific but largely invisible “belief structure”, composed of paths and key “stations”, much like the neural structure of the brain—what we refer to as a “meme”. This belief structure accounts for why certain ideas, brands and products experience unexpected success—whereas others fail to capture the public’s imagination, why some cities and states or provinces arouse admiration, pride and passion, and others do not. Understanding and utilizing that belief structure is the only consistent and reliable way to influence and harness public opinion. This methodology has been used successfully with corporations, jurisdictions and institutions across North America, some of whose logos are shown above.
The magic of having ONE Dream® is remarkable:
- Possible successful strategies are revealed by accessing the appropriate energy that will support a dream, or in some cases, validate an existing strategy
- Internal and external languaging and messaging is dramatically simplified and clarified—there is only ONE Dream® and this removes confusion and competing communications or marketing messages
- Many buzz-words and jargon-loaded slogans, tag-lines and marketing themes dissolve in the presence of ONE Dream® and a single unified message results
- Processes become much simpler —the entire organization aligns behind the ONE Dream® and does whatever it takes to realize and sustain the ONE Dream®
- The entire organization becomes focused around a richly imagined future that harnesses ALL the energy of ALL the constituents— internal and external — behind the attainment of the ONE Dream®. This results in greater internal alignment and employee inspiration and engagement, and the fusion of interests and agendas of all parties
- Leaders share an inspiring story and use it to market, recruit, collaborate, persuade, inspire, build, grow and excel
- The “buzz” around the ONE Dream® excites new opportunities, retains and inspires existing employees, attracts high caliber employees, customers, vendors, and constituents, builds new business opportunities and enables the organization or community to manage their destiny. It has a galvanizing effect on, what before, were disparate interests.
The central philosophy that powers the ONE Dream® process is our belief in dreams to inspire organizations and communities and their stakeholders to outstanding performance. Modern organizations have forgotten how to dream and instead have adopted stale and dry Mission, Vision and Values Statements. Mission statements often fail to arouse passion, but dreams (and the expectation that they can be realized) do. All great organizations have dreams—think Starbucks, Southwest Airlines, Patagonia, Apple, Google, Facebook or Amazon—all founded on a dream. So too are Louisville, KY and Austin, TX. If an organization aligns its entire cultural architecture and energy behind the realization of ONE Dream®, breakthrough results—big dreams—can happen for people, customers, the organization and the community. When everyone aligns behind ONE Dream®, quantum change results!