Fuzzy Not Focused (Part One)

What do “Yahoo!” and “Occupy Wall Street” have in common? It may surprise you.

For several weeks now, Wall Street protests have garnered attention, beginning in New York City, and later, in other locations across the nation. The protestors claim to represent 99% of the American population. Hmmm. It certainly is an eclectic group, but the last survey said only 43% are sympathetic towards the protestors. I think I know why. Have you heard any of them pronounce a clear vision for what they stand for and the action steps they plan to take if corporate America pays attention to them?

I have not. While I agree that corporate greed is wrong—intelligent people will have a hard time following such a fuzzy vision. When Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. led marches in the 1960s, the mission was clear: civil rights. There were clear actionable items to achieve equality among all races. I tend to think people can follow: “I Have a Dream” a little easier than: “I Have a Complaint.”

Last week, a report was released about Yahoo! and how investors are up in arms about the missteps that company has taken. One board member is asking for the removal of their founder and CEO, Jerry Yang. Why? If you were to ask the average person what Yahoo!’s mission is, I doubt if you’ll get a clear answer. It’s fuzzy…just like the Occupy Wall Street demonstrations. They are a “flood not a river.”

According to USA Today, “The confluence of seemingly conflicting strategies of the internet company (Yahoo!) has confounded followers, inspiring the latest parlor game in Silicon Valley: What, exactly, is Yahoo!’s end game?

Both Occupy Wall Street and Yahoo! have something in common. They are fuzzy about what their mission is and what the action steps should be to get there. It’s all unclear about what they want changed and what their solution is. This is not leadership; it provides nothing to follow, no outcome to shoot for and target to hit.

The lesson for us today? People need clarity from their leaders. In fact, I believe people follow the leader who is clearest, not necessarily the one who is right.

Tomorrow, I will post a blog on some simple steps we can take, as we lead our organizations, and become “rivers not floods.”


Fuzzy Not Focused (Part One)