In one of my previous incarnations in the world of the bureaucracy I was put in charge of strategic planning and policy development for an entire organization. It wasn’t long before I realized that most people in the agency were throwing around all kinds of management “buzzwords” without us having a collective understanding of what the other folks in the organization were talking about. It turned out that one person’s “vision” was another person’s “mission”; what were “corporate goals” for some, were “corporate objectives” for others.
These misunderstandings and confusions about terminology permeated the entire organization, from senior management, right on down to the people who were doing the actual work. In fact, if you took the time to read through an array of corporate documents; from operational plans at the working level, to strategic plans at the overall corporate level, it was impossible to clearly align them due to the widespread misuse of key corporate terminology.
Because of this situation, when it came to developing the key statements and documents that were needed to manage the organization and communicate its priorities and plans, the right-hand most often didn’t know what the left-hand was doing.
Getting Everyone Onto The Same Page
Realizing the seriousness of this problem in our organization, the big boss asked me to conduct research into this subject and come up with a proposed “hierarchy of management terminology” that we could all buy into and use in a consistent fashion.
So, that’s exactly what I did. It took a few drafts and a lot of discussion between drafts, but eventually we did develop a set of “Guidelines for the Use of Standard Management Terminology” to be used by everyone in the organization. The guidelines we developed divided the key management terms into two overall categories: 1. Management Terms, and 2. Organizational Facilitators.
1. Management Terms
The six (6) key “management terms” included in this first group are all used to describe the priorities, activities and outputs of an organization. Theses terms are: vision, mission, objectives, goals, strategies and results.
2. Organizational Facilitators
The second group of terms is made up of five (5) “facilitators” which are actual tools or instruments used by an organization to implement the organizational imperatives that are specified by the hierarchy of management terms above. These management facilitators are: policies, guidelines, directives, procedures and standards.
Clear and consistent understanding and use of these types of terms is important wherever they are used, whether in a large corporation or a small entrepreneurial business.
For a more detailed discussion of these terms you can check out the link after this paragraph. There you will find the following additional information: short definitions for each term, links to individual pages for each term containing additional background, examples of how to use the term, and tips on how to write the statements or documents that utilize the management term being described.
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