Clarity is often king in organizational dynamics. Words do matter and clear communication is vital for healthy teams. As hard as it is for me to zero in on one idea, I know a huge part of my job as a leader is to help people understand our vision and where we are going next to try to realize it (as well as I know at the time).

While this is true, there is a paradox when it comes to clarity and organizational health.

Some things are actually fuzzy on a healthy team. Indistinct. Muddled. Unclear.

As strange as that seems, in an age of instant and constant information, it’s actually healthy.

Let me give some examples.

Here are 3 areas of fuzziness on a healthy team:

The lines of authority are blurred

In some of the healthiest organizations I know, the organizational chart doesn’t matter as much in accomplishing the vision. It’s often “fuzzy” in regards to who is in charge at any given time. One person doesn’t have all the ideas or all the answers. Everyone has an equally important role to play, and while everyone knows what is expected of them, who is “in charge” is determined by what is being attempted at the time.

Leadership often depends on the task being performed. People lead based on their passions and gifting, more than because of their position, title or job description. In fact, those may change as needed to fit the current organizational challenges and opportunities.

There aren’t a lot of burdensome rules

Obviously an organization needs structure. Rules have to be in place. But on healthy teams, rules are designed to enhance, not limit growth. Rules help keep people empowered not controlled – and likely there are fewer of them. Bureaucracy diminishes progress and frustrates the team.

Granted, this fuzziness can produce a lot of gray areas, which can even be messy at times, but removing all the hard lines around people promotes their individual creativity and encourages innovation for the team.

Some things are subject to change quickly

Certain things like vision and values are concrete. They aren’t changeable. In a healthy environment, however, methods of accomplishing the vision are always held loosely. There is no sense of ownership or entitlement to a way of doing things. As needs change, the team can quickly adapt without a ton of push back and resistance.

Admittedly, this can cause some uneasiness for those who favor structure. That’s where the fuzziness can get uncomfortable, but the team has an attitude of unity, so even people more resistant to change can embrace it.

I am certainly not promoting fuzziness. I would still aim for clarity – whenever possible. Even in times of uncertainty some things, such as the values which drive the team should be clear. But, just as life is often full of unknowns – even messy – so is life on a healthy team. Figuring out how to navigate through these times and keep the team moving forward together is a part of good leadership.

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Ron Edmondson

Author Ron Edmondson

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Join the discussion 15 Comments

  • Jenom says:

    Thanks Pastor. This is insightful and helpful.

  • Jim Pemberton says:

    Anther dynamic is that no two people are like and they must fill the positions. You might have particular purposes, functions, goals, tasks, etc. slated for each position. However, different people fit different positions differently. This plays out in a variety of ways. For example:

    1) People grow. Hopefully, your people are growing in their knowledge and experience. This means that they may be able to advance in their positions, either by a promotion to a new position or by warranting an advancement in the same position. Even if they remain in he same position, they may be able to contribute in a different way by assuming new roles they either weren’t being done before, or by relieving someone else of some things who had been previously overburdened. Often it results in a slight re-organization within the team.

    2) People move on and different people are hired to fill their position. When a position becomes vacant and must be filled, you aren’t likely to find someone to fill it who will perform the job in quite the same way, particularly if it is a higher-level position. It may even be different enough to warrant a restructuring of the team. Even if it doesn’t, the dynamics of the team will change.

    3) Ideally, people have backups for when they go on vacation or in the event they are unable to work. Cross-training and overlapping of function is necessary. This changes depending on your team members’ gifts.

    Therefore, it’s healthy and important to have a little bit of fuzzy flexibility. One thing to watch out for, however, is that it’s a temptation for people to take advantage of any fuzziness so as to be lazy at their position while putting off their responsibilities on others. That’s where it’s also important to communicate clarity for each change that happens each day in the areas that tend to be fuzzy.

  • ronedmondson says:

    It happens all the time. I'm not selling anything so it usually doesn't bother me.

  • Pastor Ron! This is particularly true in the case of small, un-famous organizations. You need to go find an unknown organization where you have the freedom to experiment/ move around enough to make an impact early on. The better an organization is doing and the more famous it is, the more difficult it is to earn the trust you need to experiment. As organizations grow, they find themselves under pressure to standardize and scale their systems.

  • Joe Lalonde says:

    This might go along with your first point but roles aren't always clearly defined. People tend to jump in and do the work when they see it needs to be done.

  • kmac4him

    Yes I do, none of us are perfect. We need God! Fog is okay, because He is the defogger!

    What do I do? I "Rehearse" the vision. I think the “human condition” naturally will steam up and fog things up, how can it not? It will. Clarity has to be cleaned up by wiping off the fog with the truth of the vision. With those God has given under me in the drawn line of God given authority, I rehearse the vision, I speak of it often with great love, encouragement and excitement at what God is doing and the vision He has imparted. When times of ministry get muddied up by our “human conditions” I sooooo look to God, I ask HIM to rehearse the vision in my heart, incite my heart again Oh God with the vision of this season of my life… and I so look to those over me to help me stay in Holy Alignment with the Vision. To me, I see the season of my life right now bookended with a vision God has imparted and every day I am learning and growing through TRUTH, wisdom and discernment God puts on the shelf in my reach to take and learn from and until God puts another bookend on that season and closes it off, I am continually propping up the vision with what He is teaching me and growing me through with. Rehearse, share the vision in creative, AWE-GOD inspiring ways! This blog is one of those ways, it is up on the shelf, I am learning and growing and it props my vision as a servant leader in God's Kingdom. Thank you for your obedience.

  • Ray

    For years this was true for our team when we had chemistry. We brought on a person who seemed like an ideal fit, but lacked team chemistry and immediately there was a call for "hand holding through assignments" and a black and white rules and boundaries based structure. That person is no longer with our team and the sweet chemistry has returned along with all the healthy benefits you mentioned.

  • Steph says:

    It's definitely a sign of healthiness when some things can change quickly. As Andy Stanley says, "Marry your mission. Date your model."

  • Don Lawler says:

    Great fact.

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