In proposing change and new agendas, visionaries often tend to reach far, and sometimes they overreach. In overreaching, they fail to establish the coalition of support they need to implement their vision. That is when negotiation begins. That is when chipping away at the vision results in reformulation and compromise, often leaving the vision as a reconstituted and at times, unrecognizable, Rube Goldberg contraption made up of remnants, spare parts, and those practical essentials that give the vision some sense of minimal forward movement.
A choice leaders often face is simple: Fight for the vision and stay stubbornly committed to your intention or survive with that contraption that emerges from the chipping-away compromise process. The tactical alternatives are just as simple.
There are those that would insist on going back into the shop and starting over and reformulate the vision, and hope that starting over is better than living with what they perceive to be a mediocre compromise. On the other hand, there are those that would maintain that even the most awkward of Rube Goldberg contraptions is preferable than going back to the shop if some forward movement is achieved.
The danger for those that would go back to the shop is that they will never get out of the shop again. For those who would move ahead with the Rube Goldberg contraption, the problem is that it may break down. These are the choices that truly test leadership. The challenge of leadership is not to wallow in the perfect vision nor to give in to mediocrity.