Carl Mays: Creative 'page-turners' can be rewarding

Feb. 16, 2013 @ 12:16 AM

Today’s column was triggered by (1) a quote attributed to Vaclav Havel, a prolific writer, last president of Czechoslovakia and first president of the Czech Republic (2) opposing statements made by members of the U.S. Congress following Obama’s State of the Union address and (3) a sportscaster’s comment during the Super Bowl when the quarterback turned right to hand off the ball but the running back went left.

First of all, Havel, voted 4th in Prospect magazine's 2005 global poll of the world's top 100 intellectuals, said very simply, "Vision is not enough; it must be combined with venture. It is not enough to stare up the steps; we must step up the stairs."

Secondly, NY Rep. Steve Israel, chairman of House Democrats' campaign arm, responded to the presidential address: "The president laid out his vision for a safer, more inclusive and more prosperous America. House Democrats are united in our commitment to create jobs by growing the middle class, to fix our broken immigration system and to protect our kids by reducing gun violence. Unfortunately, Tea Party House Republicans continue to stand for extremism and chronic chaos, blocking these important solutions and leaving the middle class out in the cold.”

Conversely, the address drew this official Republican response from FL Sen. Marco Rubio: "Presidents in both parties have known that our free enterprise economy is the source of our middle class prosperity. But President Obama? He believes it's the cause of our problems, that the economic downturn happened because our government didn't tax enough, spend enough and control enough. And, therefore, as you heard tonight, his solution to virtually every problem we face is for Washington to tax more, borrow more and spend more."

Thirdly, you and I and multitudes of others in business, sports, religion, politics and everything else in life have said in one way or another what the Super Bowl sportscaster said following the confusion between the running back and quarterback: “Well, apparently they were not on the same page.”

Heck, not only are people who supposedly are working together not on the same page sometimes, they are not even in the same book. Even worse, they don’t have the book and have no idea where to find it. And, once they find it, they may discover some of the pages are missing, especially the one on which they are currently supposed to be.

Leaders need to assure that everyone in an organization has a copy of the book. The book’s preface should vividly and clearly show and explain the vision. However, before stating this vision succinctly, it would be good if the leaders bounced ideas off of and received input from other team leaders. Then, as Vaclav Havel suggested, the book should outline step by step, chapter by chapter, the action to take to turn the vision into reality, using checks and balances along the way to assure the correct action is taken.

At the conclusion of each chapter, it would be good to summarize what has been accomplished and what has worked so far, along with what has failed, what can be learned from the failures, what side steps or new steps need to be taken and what steps need to be altered or deleted.

When you get a group of people reading, discussing, contributing, understanding and working from the same book, turning the pages together and working together day-by-day according to the pages, then you’ve got a winning organization. And, the day-by-day winning can lead to championships if the book is, indeed, a creative “page-turner” that is rewarding and hard to put down.

Through it all, clarity is needed. For example, when a headline following the State of the Union address read “President makes plea for bipartisanship,” does this mean he wants everybody to agree with him – or does he want input, negotiation and teamwork from others regarding the vision and action steps that will be best for America?

© 2013 by Carl Mays, National Speakers Association Hall of Fame member and author, whose mentoring site is based on his “A Strategy For Winning” book and program. Contact or view