Making Vision Stick: Part 5—Celebrate It Systematically

How has your organization done at celebrating when the vision is lived out?


In part 5 of his Making Vision Stick series, best-selling author and founding pastor of North Point Ministries Andy Stanley talks about what to do after establishing your organization’s vision. Now that you have defined your vision and casted it convincingly and regularly, it is time to celebrate the wins—when your vision is lived out. Andy shares a story to illustrate just how important it is to the clarity of your vision to celebrate wins and do it systematically.

Watch this video as Andy explains the necessity of celebrating wins to back up your vision.

To make vision stick, leaders need to celebrate the vision and celebrate it systematically. We need to pause from time to time to celebrate wins. We need to look back and acknowledge what's been accomplished, and we need to acknowledge the individuals that have contributed to our progress.

I'm convinced that celebrating wins does more to clarify the vision than anything else. You see, the tricky thing about vision is that it's made up of words and word pictures. There aren't any photographs. After all, vision is about the future. That makes it difficult for leaders to get everybody on the same page. However, from time to time you'll see somebody in your organization do something that lets you know that they really get it. When that happens, you can't miss the opportunity to highlight what they've done, and then celebrate it publically. Nothing clarifies vision better than a living example, something that underscores exactly what you're talking about when you cast your vision.

Several years ago I received an email from a mother in our church who had a son in the 5th grade. Her son's Sunday morning group leader, Greg, had been deployed to active military duty during the course of the school year. This mom emailed me to say that Greg had continued to stay in contact with her son, even from his deployment overseas. He actually called her son from Turkey. So I shared her email with our staff, which of course reinforced the fact that we're constantly casting vision to our small group leaders about maintaining relationships with kids outside of the Sunday morning context. Of course, that was a huge win.

When Greg returned from his deployment I asked if I could share his story with our entire church from the stage, and I chose a Sunday when we were recruiting volunteers for the upcoming ministry season. Toward the end of the service I read the mother's email, and as you can imagine, everyone was moved by the story, but what the congregation didn't know, however, is that Greg was sitting in uniform in the front row of the auditorium. I asked him to stand, and people went crazy.

That year we needed to recruit about 1300 volunteers, and following Greg's example more than 1700 people signed up to serve. As you already know, emails and success stories like that don't come along every day, but when they do, we have to look for ways to leverage them.

Every month I lead a staff meeting for our employees from all of our campuses. This usually includes about 400 people. I begin our time with this question: What happened yesterday or last week that made you feel like you were successful in what you came here to do? What happened yesterday or last week that made you feel successful in what you came here to do? And then I just allow people to tell their stories. As people get up and share, I follow up their stories by tying them back to our organizational vision. I say things like, "That's exactly what we're talking about when we talk about apprenticing," or, "That's exactly what we mean when we talk about making a specific relational connection."

Their stories provide me with opportunities to underscore vision and value, and to say that's the bullseye on the target. That's the win. Nothing gives definition to vision like pausing to celebrate a win. So within the rhythm of your organization, you've got to figure out how to celebrate the wins and how to celebrate them systematically.

I know from countless conversations that some leaders think that celebrations are really just a total waste of time. But here's the thing. When you celebrate the right thing in the right way, you are using the most effective form of vision casting. Celebrations create that 'Aha' moment in a way that words alone just can't. Now here's the thing. Every organization celebrates something. You may not stage a celebration, but the people in your organization are celebrating something. The question is what? What are they celebrating? And more importantly, what should they be celebrating? What do you wish they would celebrate?

Here's an organizational principle that you never want to lose sight of. What's celebrated is repeated. What's celebrated is repeated. The behaviors that are celebrated are the behaviors that are repeated. The decisions that are celebrated are repeated. The values that are celebrated are the ones that the people in your organization actually embrace. If you intentionally or unintentionally celebrate something that is in conflict with your vision, the vision just won't stick.

For the record, celebrations trump motivational speeches every single time, so ultimately to make vision stick we must connect vision to celebration. The way you do that is to draw attention to the people that are getting it right. A win that reflects vision creates an illustration of what you've been trying to say like nothing else does, so figure out a way to celebrate those successes and figure out a way to celebrate them systematically.


Andy Stanley

Leadership communicator, best-selling author and founding pastor of North Point Ministries Andy Stanley inspires tens of thousands of people. Andy founded Atlanta-based North Point Ministries in 1995, leading six churches in the Atlan...

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