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Divisions are necessary in all organizations, even churches. They provide the structure that allows your ministry to function smoothly. Every organization is divided into divisions, functions, or some type of grouping. Doing so allows each group to develop the special skill sets needed to make it function.

But when departments or functional areas become isolated from one another it causes problems. Leaders often refer to this as creating silos.

But organizational silos can also cause problems – the same structural benefits listed above also prevent the flow of information, focus, and control outward. In order for an organization to work efficiently, decisions need to be made across silos.

To shatter barriers of silos in your organization, the goal is not to destroy the meaningful structural divisions themselves but to eliminate the problems that silos cause. Problems arise when:

Key leaders only think about their ministry area and not the entire organization.

Solution #1: Develop a thematic goal


Silos, Politics, and Turf Wars addresses the costly and maddening issue of silos, the barriers that create organizational politics. Silos devastate organizations, kill productivity, push good people out the door, and jeopardize the achievement of organizational goals.


Silos spring up in many organizations not because of specific actions, but rather by inaction on the part of leaders. They do not provide themselves and their team members with a compelling context for working together.

To help teams think and behave in ways that require them to think globally, Lencioni uses a simple and powerful way for leaders to create a common sense of purpose while providing a context for interdependency – the thematic goal.

 To avoid politics and turf battles, executives must establish an unambiguously stated common goal, a single overriding theme that remains the top priority of the entire leadership team for a given period of time.

THEMATIC GOAL - a single, qualitative focus that is shared by the entire leadership team—and ultimately, by the entire organization—and that applies for only a specified time period.

Single - In an organization, there can be only one true thematic goal in a given period. When an organization is tempted to throw in one or two extra top priorities, they defeat the purpose of the thematic goal, which is to provide clarity around whatever is truly most important.

Qualitative - The thematic goal is not a number, and it is not even specifically measurable. It is a general statement of a desired accomplishment. It requires a verb, because it rallies people to do something. Improve, reduce, increase, grow, change, establish, eliminate, accelerate.

Time-Bound - The thematic goal does not live beyond a fixed time period, because that would suggest that it is an ongoing objective. To the contrary, it is a desired achievement that is particularly important during that period, and must therefore be accomplished in a corresponding time frame. That time frame is usually somewhere between three and twelve months, depending on the nature of an organization’s business cycle and its unique situation.

Shared - The thematic goal applies to everyone on the leadership team, regardless of their area of expertise or interest. It is critical that all team members take responsibility for the goal, and for doing anything they can to move the organization—not just their own department—toward the accomplishment of that goal. They must dare to make suggestions and ask questions about areas other than their own, even when they know relatively little about those areas.

Once a thematic goal has been set, a leadership team must then give it actionable context, so that members of the team know what must be done to accomplish the goal.

- Patrick Lencioni, Silos, Politics, and Turf Wars


 It may be difficult to decide on a thematic goal, but the key to finding the right one is to give the team time to discuss options for the goal, without being pressured to arrive at a hasty decision. In many cases, the initial thematic goal suggested by the team actually turns out to be one of the defining objectives – part of the next step.

The beauty of a thematic goal is its simplicity: clearly established and communicated, a thematic goal allows your team members to determine at any time how their work is contributing toward achieving that goal.

To arrive at a thematic goal, assemble your team together and share the definition of the thematic goal presented above. Spend time on each part of the definition, and create a list of potential thematic goal statements. Continue asking this question: “Is this really the thematic goal, or is it merely one of many defining objectives?”

Don’t overanalyze your process; often the thematic goal is deceptively simple. Sometimes all that is needed to help you make a final decision is an outside voice or a trusted peer leader in another organization.

Taken from SUMS Remix 1.9, published March 2015

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Topics: Date: Nov 30, 1999 Tags: and Turf Wars / patrick lencioni / Politics / Silos / SUMS reMix / Vision / will mancini