New Wharton research looks at how thousands of NASA employees with vastly different roles were able to rally around the common goal of a lunar landing in the 1960s. Prof. Carton analyzed reams of NASA documents from the 1960s to understand how thousands of employees with vastly different roles were able to rally around the common goal of a lunar landing. He found part of the answer in the persuasive rhetoric of President John F. Kennedy.
- The conventional wisdom around how leaders should orient themselves when communicating about the organization’s ultimate goals is that they should be visionaries. They should paint a grand picture of what it is that we’re all trying to achieve, this destination that we’re all trying to reach. What I found is that it’s absolutely critical that leaders do depict a compelling picture of where ultimately we want to go. But just as important — and also more time consuming and requiring even more investment — is that they communicate about how each employee in the organization can get a sense of how their work connects to the organization’s mission or vision. That process of connection-building took more steps and was more time intensive and more complex than the process of just selling somebody about the importance and beauty of this ultimate goal that we’re trying to achieve together. In some sense, that was the easy part. The hard part is helping people see a connection between their work and the organization’s mission.