Last weekend my daughter asked if I wanted to do a puzzle together.

I love puzzles so logically I said yes.

She went to her room and came back with a little green purse. From inside it she proceeded to pull out a ziploc bag full of puzzle pieces.

We pulled them all out, one by one, flipped them over and began to separate out the edge and corner pieces from the rest.

After a few minutes we had them all separated and were ready for the next logical step… looking at the picture to see where they all when.

I began to look around for a picture of the puzzle and we soon realized that… we didn’t have it.


So… this was about to be a lot more difficult than we first imagined. Not impossible, but without a picture to reference, if we were able to complete the puzzle at all it was going to take us 10 times longer.

Well, we were determined to do it so we began to try to group like pieces and colors and parts of the picture together and it started to come into focus. A giraffe. The jungle. The sky. The birds.

Finally, we got it all together (except for that last piece, of course that is living somewhere alone and afraid in our house).

But it made me think about how a poor vision in an organization can lead to frustration, lack of direction and often an end result that isn’t anything like the leader imagined.

Maybe you’ve been in that spot. You’ve assigned a project or task with what you thought was enough information.

But what your team members received was a box full of puzzle pieces that were missing the box cover. They might have done their best to complete the project the way you intended, but the end result and what you had envisioned might have been quite a bit different.

Next time you assign that task or project, or send that email, make sure that you’re providing a clear enough box cover for them, a vision of what you’re after, a clear directive to follow. And then make it easy on both of you by just asking them “is there anything that you don’t understand or questions I can answer?”

You might be surprised to find that often there are questions but they would have just tried to fill in the gaps on their own because maybe they felt like they were expected to just know something that wasn’t communicated.

So, give that a shot next time and see if you get a better result with less frustration.

And… if you happen to find a puzzle piece that looks like a giraffe’s knee, could you send it my way? Thanks.


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