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Making the Invisible VISIBLE

In iceberg-talk we usually refer to the tip, in this metaphor there's a foreboding allusion to the rest of the chunk.  The part we don't see holds danger, it's THAT PART that will bring an appearance from the State Farm mayhem guy!

Gary Keller brings a more positive version (above) in his 2012 bestseller The One Thing,  using the iceberg to show what supports our visible activity, namely purpose and priority.  In this iceberg the daily activity or "productivity" is the visible portion and there's a three part natural rhythm for achieving extraordinary results:

  • Purpose
  • Priority
  • Productivity

And it's up to us to keep them connected.  When connected, what we do is buoyed by our purpose and the clearly stated and often-reviewed priorities that serve it.

I had great fun recently with an executive team working to revise their organization's mission statement.  As a highly active and productive group the tip of the iceberg was easy to see.  Their productivity is measured in various numbers and the buzz of their center is daily testimony.  

As with many human service agencies, priorities are always pushing up to daily busy-ness and those priorities are set by outside demands as often as by internal deliberation.  The reality of outside priorities is frustrating but manageable when you build in some gatekeeping.

Then you look further and see purpose, or mission.  That was our task that day, to take a four-hour dive below the surface and revisit the words that are supporting the activity.  What is the problem we seek to address?  What do we want to achieve for whom?  What business are we in, and in the end for what will we be remembered? 
Before the end of the day, a committed, passionate team had hammered on the iceberg to create a six word draft mission statement.  This base of their existence will be more visible since it will drive priorities and actions.  What a great iceberg, the activity tip is not only floated by the rest of the chunk but really tells you what’s underneath it all.