August 23, 2021 JV



to arrange (items to be attended to) in order of their relative importance.

In society, business or life, people must prioritise scarce resources in order to achieve desired outcomes.  If done well, society flourishes.  If not…

King Solomon wrote in the book of Proverbs Ch. 29, verse 18 that “where there is no vision, the people perish.”

Dr. Stephen Covey agreed with his habit #2 of “begin with the end in mind.”

So, what is the chief end of man?  What should we, as individuals and groups aspire to?  When you get near the end of this article (no peeking!) you’ll discover just how important it is to set an appropriate vision.  It influences all of the other elements in the strategic planning chain:

Strategic Planning chain – from Vision to Priorities

In my article To What End, I wrote about Dr. Covey’s Hedgehog Principle and also about how to set a meaningful purpose, “…one that captures imaginations and draws inexorably toward to the future?”  I also wrote that:

“In their landmark book, Built to Last, Collins and Porras found that long-lived businesses all shared a powerful core ideology.  With it, savvy business leaders redefined the way they interacted with the marketplace.  When focused just on making money, businesses would last for a generation or so and then fade into oblivion.  But when their raison d’ê·tre transcended profit-taking, the hearts and minds of employees and stakeholders turned a venture into an adventure; business as usual into long-lived business.”

The powerful core of any mission is tied to its values.  Some of the most common of these values can be found in various historical writings, codes of behaviour and constitutions.  Liberty, Health, Prosperity, Truth, Love and Equality are just a few of the commonly-held values.

I’ve also written about values in my article The Value of Values: the most important point to make about values is their source.  Did they come from the boardroom or are they transcendent and self-evident?  Here is a collection of values from several very successful businesses:

Quality, Service, Excellence, Trust, Respect, Teamwork, Collaboration.

A strategic objective helps leaders to know when they have arrived at a key outcome.  When an organisation has a large collection of these, it is common for several to be in tension or competition with each other.  Leaders often organise or normalise these using a risk consequence table so that they can make effective decisions.  Pair-wise ranking tools are useful to help leaders align and rate these competing outcomes.  These then become the key factors in establishing priorities.

There is one business reality – almost as sure as death and taxes – the scarcity of critical resources.

So, one would hope that:

  • when we promote our best and brightest to lead and guide us; and
  • when they craft compelling visions, missions, values and strategic objectives; and
  • when these are used to prioritise the application of our critical resources;

then we will achieve great individual, organisational and societal outcomes.

So, what happens when scarce resources are prioritised to achieve interests that appear to be far more political and vested than being genuinely beneficial to individuals, organisations and to society at large? 

Where were the armed forces – the sons and daughters of the deplorables – that should have been deployed to ensure atrocities such as this, never occur?

Australian Defence Force personnel ensuring compliance with COVID-19 mask mandates and stay at home orders on the streets of Sydney.

Watch US Army veteran Matt Zeller respond to the interviewer on MSNBC.

Was King Solomon right?

Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn is a Russian author, Nobel Prize winner and survivor of the communist gulags.  Quoting from  “The Gulag Archipelago is Solzhenitsyn’s masterwork, a vast canvas of camps, prisons, transit centres and secret police, of informers and spies and interrogators and also of heroism, a Stalinist anti-world at the heart of the Soviet Union where the key to survival lay not in hope but in despair. The work is based on the testimony of some two hundred survivors, and on the recollection of Solzhenitsyn’s own eleven years in labour camps and exile. It is both a thoroughly researched document and a feat of literary and imaginative power.”

Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn gave a stirring address on the occasion of his acceptance, in London on May 10, 1983, of the Templeton Prize for Progress in Religion.

Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn in 1975 (File photo/Library of Congress)

In this speech, Solzhenitsyn made several sobering claims.  Some of these are copied below.

“More than half a century ago, while I was still a child, I recall hearing a number of older people offer the following explanation for the great disasters that had befallen Russia: “Men have forgotten God; that’s why all this has happened.”

Since then, I have spent well-nigh 50 years working on the history of our Revolution; in the process I have read hundreds of books, collected hundreds of personal testimonies, and have already contributed eight volumes of my own toward the effort of clearing away the rubble left by that upheaval. But if I were asked today to formulate as concisely as possible the main cause of the ruinous Revolution that swallowed up some 60 million of our people, I could not put it more accurately than to repeat: “Men have forgotten God; that’s why all this has happened.”…

…The failings of human consciousness, deprived of its divine dimension, have been a determining factor in all the major crimes of this century…

…Dostoevsky warned that “great events could come upon us and catch us intellectually unprepared.” This is precisely what has happened. And he predicted that “the world will be saved only after it has been possessed by the demon of evil.” Whether it really will be saved we shall have to wait and see: this will depend on our conscience, on our spiritual lucidity, on our individual and combined efforts in the face of catastrophic circumstances. But it has already come to pass that the demon of evil, like a whirlwind, triumphantly circles all five continents of the earth…

…We are witnesses to the devastation of the world, be it imposed or voluntarily undergone. The entire 20th century is being sucked into the vortex of atheism and self-destruction…

…Different parts of the world have followed different paths, but today they are all approaching the threshold of a common ruin…

…To achieve its diabolical ends. Communism needs to control a population devoid of religious and national feeling, and this entails the destruction of faith and nationhood…

…It seems more and more apparent that even with the most sophisticated of political manoeuvres, the noose around the neck of mankind draws tighter and more hopeless with every passing decade, and there seems to be no way out for anyone — neither nuclear, nor political, nor economic, nor ecological. That is indeed the way things appear to be…

…With such global events looming over us like mountains, nay, like entire mountain ranges, it may seem incongruous and inappropriate to recall that the primary key to our being or non-being resides in each individual human heart, in the heart’s preference for specific good or evil. Yet this remains true even today, and it is, in fact, the most reliable key we have. The social theories that promised so much have demonstrated their bankruptcy, leaving us at a dead end. The free people of the West could reasonably have been expected to realize that they are beset by numerous freely nurtured falsehoods, and not to allow lies to be foisted upon them so easily. All attempts to find a way out of the plight of today’s world are fruitless unless we redirect our consciousness, in repentance, to the Creator of all: without this, no exit will be illumined, and we shall seek it in vain. The resources we have set aside for ourselves are too impoverished for the task. We must first recognize the horror perpetrated not by some outside force, not by class or national enemies, but within each of us individually, and within every society. This is especially true of a free and highly developed society, for here in particular we have surely brought everything upon ourselves, of our own free will. We ourselves, in our daily unthinking selfishness, are pulling tight that noose…

…Let us ask ourselves: Are not the ideals of our century false? And is not our glib and fashionable terminology just as unsound, a terminology that offers superficial remedies for every difficulty? Each of them, in whatever sphere, must be subjected to a clear-eyed scrutiny while there is still time. The solution to the crisis will not be found along the well-trodden paths of conventional thinking…

…Our life consists not in the pursuit of material success but in the quest for worthy spiritual growth. Our entire earthly existence is but a transitional stage in the movement toward something higher, and we must not stumble and fall, nor must we linger fruitlessly on one rung of the ladder. Material laws alone do not explain our life or give it direction. The laws of physics and physiology will never reveal the indisputable manner in which the Creator constantly, day in and day out, participates in the life of each of us, unfailingly granting us the energy of existence; when this assistance leaves us, we die. And in the life of our entire planet, the Divine Spirit surely moves with no less force: this we must grasp in our dark and terrible hour…

…To the ill-considered hopes of the last two centuries, which have reduced us to insignificance and brought us to the brink of nuclear and non-nuclear death, we can propose only a determined quest for the warm hand of God, which we have so rashly and self-confidently spurned. Only in this way can our eyes be opened to the errors of this unfortunate 20th century and our bands be directed to setting them right. There is nothing else to cling to in the landslide: the combined vision of all the thinkers of the Enlightenment amounts to nothing…

…Our five continents are caught in a whirlwind. But it is during trials such as these that the highest gifts of the human spirit are manifested. If we perish and lose this world, the fault will be ours alone…

Almost 40 years have passed since Solzhenitsyn’s address and I believe the following must be stated: 

Men have forgotten Solzhenitsyn.

“Hope, it is the only thing stronger than fear. A little hope is effective, a lot of hope is dangerous.”
President Snow – The Hunger Games”

These are troubled times.  What we need is hope.  Hope in whom?

“This hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and steadfast, and which enters the Presence behind the veil.”

Letter to the Hebrews, Chapter 6, verse 19.

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