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The Unity Principle: Aligning thought, vision and action to inspire transformative change

By Bruce Grover, Founder & Chief Strategist

In this series of articles, our founder explores the key principles that inspire our work translating purpose and vision into causes and change.

While I had volunteered in community building service for years, I will never forget when the Unity Principle finally hit me. I was leading a brand presentation with the executive team of a very large and well known public company. We’d booked an hour, but at the 20 minute mark the CEO turned to his colleagues and said, “This is terrific — and I think it aligns with the path we’ve laid to get into the top 3, right?” Everyone nodded. The CFO and CMO added a few tweaks. They thanked us and the room cleared.

My team was thrilled. We’d worked hard and presented a smart piece of work. But as we debriefed, I paused and asked, “How did they do that? How did they have that level of clarity and alignment?”

Fast forward a year, my wife and I were volunteering with a neighborhood junior youth group in Brooklyn. The dozen kids in our living room were working with a Hip Hop poet on lyrics, when they decided to have an open house performance. It happened fast. Again, I was left examining what had just happened and how these kids consulted so effectively that they made the decision in a few quick minutes.

This led me to one of the bigger “aha moments” I’ve had in nearly 30 years in this work: You can not have unity of action without unity of thought and vision.

Today, we identify this unity building work as our first principle of approach as we partner with clients to lay out a path for sustainable growth and authentic impact. Without unity of thought, vision and action, the best laid plans — gorgeous brands, communications and campaigns — will not achieve the desired outcomes over time. Disunity, on the other hand, is too expensive an alternative. It undermines progress, saps morale and squanders social capital. We’ve all lived with disunity of thought, vision and action. We suggest it’s time to try unity for a change.

We approach this work in three steps.

1. Unity of Thought: We bring key stakeholders together to explore the challenges, opportunities and lessons being learned. As we explore the what, why, how and who, we begin to coalesce around the big ideas — the guiding principles, strategic priorities and desired outcomes. Invariably, a vision of change begins to emerge.

2. Unity of Vision: With unity of thought in motion, we begin describing our vision of change. What is the world we seek to create? As a compelling vision statement takes shape, we ask: How do we rally our audiences to this vision? How do we collaborate with them to shape a shared and sustainable future?

3. Unity of Action: Building on our vision, we turn to the work of rallying audiences to the cause. We work through goals, audiences and the noise in the marketplace and to define the actions we can take to inform, inspire, and invite interaction at scale.

I remember talking with a leader at the large company where we had such a strong presentation a few years later. They became one of the Top 3 companies in their field. I believe that however innovative they were, however useful their products, programs and services were, what drove their growth was the time they took to achieve unity of thought, vision and action.

Essential to this work, of course, is putting people and purpose first. We explore this in our 2nd article in this series, the Purpose Principle.

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