FRAGMENTATION is the splitting of will and focus among the stakeholders. A noticeable crack in the group’s intentionality appears, threatening unity of purpose, solidarity, and commitment to the vision.
FRAGMENTATION usually happens at the worst possible time. Recognizing the beginnings of FRAGMENTATION is essential, as are timely and effective actions to reestablish COHESION.
When faced with new possibilities, people react in predictable ways. The FRAGMENTATION PRIME helps a leader visualize what kind of splintering is occurring.
Learn the patterns illustrated in the illustration of the FRAGMENTATION PRIME:
- Strategy Focused & Aligned: This represents the ideal condition: the leader moves out and the team follows closely.
Visionary Leader & Recalcitrant Organization: This shows a leader moving ahead without enrolling the team. When a group finds itself alone, the vision may be lost and the entire project could fail. The leader must rally the team.
Operations Focused & Fragmented: This illustrates a mutiny. The leader and some of the team members at lower levels are entrenched in the status quo. They failed to internalize the STAKE and they aren’t motivated to change anything. Others take matters into their own hands and move out on their own.
- Strategy Focused & Recalcitrant Middle Management: This shows a leader who has inspired the rank and file, but who hasn’t communicated the benefits effectively to middle managers. This type of FRAGMENTATION is prevalent in government; leaders come and go every eighteen months, while career managers remain in place. If managers don’t like what they hear, they adopt a “this too shall pass” attitude. Underestimating the power of the middle team is a rookie leader’s error and a costly one.
- Strategy Focused & Fragmented: The most common type of FRAGMENTATION, the leader has rallied the team at all levels, yet some have chosen to protect the status quo. As the top moves out, the middle and bottom levels of the group split. Some move with the leader toward the vision, while others resist.
After the initial excitement of an inspiring vision and strategy are revealed, watch for which groups begin to question it and why so you can revisit the STAKE with them to work towards COHESION.
Whether pursuing CHANGE or TRANSFORMATION, every project will encounter FRAGMENTATION and unless leaders address it proactively, the effort will fail because of it.