Why Vision Should Be The Raison d’Être (Reason of Existence) For Any Business or Organization

In the wonderful book of Proverbs, King Solomon states:

 “Where there is no vision, the people perish.”

Why is vision so important? Do organizations really face the threat of “perishing” or extinction if their vision statements are not spelled out clearly and openly for all stakeholders to read and understand?

According Wikipedia’s entry on Vision Statement a company vision should include the following traits:  “general enough to encompass all of the organization’s interests and strategic direction:

Challenging: not something that can be easily met and discarded

Clear: defines a prime goal

Concise: able to be easily remembered and repeated

Future-oriented: describes where the company is going rather than the current state

Inspiring: motivates employees and is something that employees view as desirable

Stable: offers a long-term perspective and is unlikely to be impacted by market or technology changes

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Any organization’s vision should be the “raison d’être” or the most important reason or purpose for someone or something’s existence just like human beings should understand why they were born and what their awesome destiny is! In his book “Delivering Results: A New Mandate for Human Resource Professionals” author David Ulrich makes this fundamental claim:

“It is more important to know who you are than where you are going, for where you are going will change as the world around you changes.”

In many ways the vision of a company is its core ideology. Leaders pass away, services or products become obsolete, market dynamics shift, new technologies disrupt the way we work, but core ideology / culture in a great organization endures as a source of guidance, inspiration and motivation. An organization’s culture or core ideology provides the glue that holds an organization together as it expands, diversifies, and develops workplace diversity. What held and still holds the Jewish people together despite the fact that they have been centuries without a homeland? The principles and core Ideology of Judaism. Core Ideology / Organization vision should be the common purpose, the enduring ideals and principles that bond the entire workforce towards a shared purpose and vision.

I love the “little weirdness” Tony Hsieh promotes in his company Zappos.com. Tony knows that the “WOW customer experience” is never terminal or achieved; it is an ongoing attempt and effort to service all stakeholders for a company that “happens” to sell shoes and handbags.

___CM_F_Zappos_Delivering.Happiness

“One day, 30% of all retail transactions in the US will be online. People will buy from the company with the best service and the best selection. Zappos.com will be that online store. Our hope is that our focus on service will allow us to WOW our customers, our employees, our vendors, and our investors. We want Zappos.com to be known as a service company that happens to sell shoes, handbags, and anything and everything.”

Some of the questions leaders should ask themselves is how their organizations are being perceived by all stakeholders when management is not “in the room”. What is the press saying about their companies? Such a study could bring surprises since management and workforce/customer perceptions are often divergent as exemplified by the following slide:

___CustServ_F_Mission.Statement_vs._Real.Company.Philosophy_2

Ten fundamental questions organizations should regularly ask themselves:

What do our workers and customers say about our organization?

What are the values our organization creates for our workforce, vendors and investors?

What are the core values driving our company vision?

What is the core purpose or raison d’être (reason of existence) for our organization?

What are the values our company provides to our consumers?

What is our company known for?

What are the values our organizations creates in the world

What is the renewable and sustainable contribution our organization makes to our environment?

What is our organization perceived for: cutting edge or bleeding edge?

What makes it peculiar to work for our organization?

____CM_F_Culture_Staff.Treatment

The goal  of making a profit does not belong to a company vision or/and its core values: Making money should be the outcome or the fruit of a company’s labor and hard work!  In Part part two of this series, we will look at two main tenets of company vision: core values and core purpose.

 

Change Management Seventy per Cent failure rate: Tech Failure or Human Malfunction?

A few weeks days ago Rachel Happe and I were having a bit of a Twitter meme, following on the wonderful work The Community Roundtable did with its stunning “2015 Community Manager Attributes” graphic. I raised the following question: “Is the well known change management seventy per cent failure rate due to technology failure or human malfunction?”

Rachel’s reply was very insightful:  Human. We are much harder to change than the technology. fully supporting Clay Shirky’s statement from his book: ”Here Comes Everybody: ‘[Change] does not happen when society adopts new tools, it happens when society [businesses] adopt new behaviors.'”

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So why is it so difficult for us to change? Why is this seventy per cent failure rate as high in such an abundant world we are enjoying? How can we fail with a 24/7 ubiquitous internet access?

Is not it surprising that intelligent human beings (one would think) are so often incapable of overcoming basic conflicts and difficulties as they occur? I’ve often asked myself: What are the core issues or basic challenges the workforce faces in its daily environment?

5 human difficulties emerge when Change Managers are at work:

—Conflicting objectives

—Conflicting priorities

—Human Communication

—Politics

—Unshared vision

There is one common word in all these five main areas of difficulty: “conflict.” We will narrow the conflict search in Wikipedia to: conflict within processes:

Conflict refers to some form of friction, disagreement, or discord arising within a group when the beliefs or actions of one or more members of the group are either resisted by or unacceptable to one or more members of another group.

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Doesn’t this remind us of company silos such as Controlling vs. Sales, Sales vs. Production or even Sales vs. Marketing? If Sales, Marketing and Production do not share a higher vision than “share holder profit” it will remain extremely difficult to tear down the “Internal Business Berlin Walls” so many corporations have on display.

So in other words, communities are not built because of technology but thanks to the people that put them together!

Reviewing The Community Roundtable summary of skills under the “Engagement” heading, one would agree that the ten points suggested could very well be relating to “conflicting objectives and priorities” as well as “human communication.”

Conflicting objectives and priorities

“Behavior change and gamification

Empathy and member support

Listening and analyzing

Moderation & conflict facilitation

Promoting productive behaviors” (Credit: The Community Roundtable)

Human Communication

“Facilitating connections

Listening and analyzing

New member recruitment

New member welcoming

Response and escalation” (Credit: The Community Roundtable)

I earnestly believe that a transcendent vision, placed above product, shareholder value and business earnings ought to be addressed, defined and ratified! An organization has to identify itself with a vision that will become the glue that holds everything and everyone together.

“Unshared vision” and “politics” will never be overcome with a business plan or an Excel table! Could you imagine if Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. when addressing the crowd in his famous speech “I have a dream” had  replaced it with “I have a to-do-list”? Ludicrous right? This is however what many organizations are doing! In this upcoming series we will look at the fundamental need for upper-management to define a vision that should be shared by the core of the workforce and the organization’s values by which employees should be hired.

We will look at why it is so crucial for organizations to define a clear company vision that goes beyond the cliches we often hear when asking the question: How would you define your organization’s vision in less than 25 words?

 

 

Simplest Way to Create Twitter RSS Feeds For Your Favorite Feed Reader

I wonder why Twitter (mostly struggling with its “share value” in Wall Street) makes it so difficult to access its flabbergasting amount of data it has been gathering since its inception! It must be a crusade, a calling, a motto such as: ”let’s make it awkward, difficult for our members to gather data and monitor it!”

Twitter has made it a crusade to make it almost impossible for us to organize our own data! I’ve sent many tweets to twitter but never ever got an answer! Probably this social network “intrinsically social” (just because of its name) does not see the need to be social and bother answering the requests and observations that come from its users: in other words “who cares” right?

Some of my ongoing frustrations are still

  1. No way to organize lists alphabetically whatsoever!
  2. Download of own tweets still cumbersome and inefficient
  3. No RSS feeds or direct downloading into Excel to conveniently evaluate your data

RSS feeds are important for those of us who want to keep up with what is happening in our area of interested or expertise right?

Without further ado let’s jump right into it.

In order to manually (or digitally) fabricate Twitter RSS feeds we need two parameters:

  1. A Google macro, which is already 2/3 of the RSS feed we need
  2. The Specific ID number of the RSS feed, which we’ll obtain from Twitter directly through its “WIDGET” app: that’s it.

This is my personal public GOOGLE MACRO STRING for you to copy, paste and bookmark so you won’t have to bother with all the “programming headaches” most of us are not interested in! This is public information so feel free to copy it, pass it around or use it whatever way you feel appropriate:

https://script.google.com/macros/s/AKfycbyKXSjVCew1Li0Dl1J2k7tJyCTO62-Kq5i0O2TluSDbVmdwZnI/exec?

Your new Twitter-RSS-Feed is just about ready! Hold on folks because we still need the second parameter that/which Twitter delivers to each account free of charge!

Please log in to your Twitter account:

  1. Click on your picture which is on the upper right hand side of your Twitter-account: a drop down menu should pop up with the following choices:

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  1. Click on “Settings”

This will take you right under the hood of your Twitter account: on the left hand side of your Twitter window you should see the following menu:

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The last entry before the end is “Widgets”: please double click on “Widgets”:

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On the top right hand side of your monitor you should be able to spot: “create new”

Twitter gives you the choice to create widgets for:

—Timelines: Twitter single account

—Lists: yours or the ones you follow

—Likes: yours or other accounts

—Search: twitter hashtags

—Collection: (not familiar with it yet)

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In order to limit the length of this technical blog post we shall create a USER TIMELINE RSS feed for “Alexandra Lepercq @Espenel”! I hope Alexandra forgives me for abusing her account. In the username: type “Espenel” and then save changes:

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Copy the “widget link” for Alexandra Lepercq with the following command “CTRL+C” and then paste it with “CTRL+V” into your favorite word program/notepad:

<a class=”twitter-timeline” href=”https://twitter.com/Espenel&#8221; data-widget-id=”679006546735558656“>Tweets by @Espenel</a> !function(d,s,id){var js,fjs=d.getElementsByTagName(s)[0],p=/^http:/.test(d.location)?’http’:’https’;if(!d.getElementById(id)){js=d.createElement(s);js.id=id;js.src=p+”://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js”;fjs.parentNode.insertBefore(js,fjs);}}(document,”script”,”twitter-wjs”);

The only part of the string that interests us is Alexandra Lepercq’s widget ID number: 679006546735558656: This is the widget number that Twitter created: That’s it folks: we are almost finished!

Now take Alexandra Lepercq’s widget number: 679006546735558656 and add it to the first part of the macro I wrote at the beginning of the article: There are no space between any of the letter/numbers: https://script.google.com/macros/s/AKfycbyKXSjVCew1Li0Dl1J2k7tJyCTO62-Kq5i0O2TluSDbVmdwZnI/exec?679006546735558656

I personally use Feedly so here is a short version of this link:

http://j.mp/1MtbfoY

I copied this link and pasted it into my Feedly Reader: http://j.mp/1MtbfoY

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That’s it! My Feedly RSS Feed is ready: you can paste this feed in any of your readers! here is a screen shot of the feed added to Feedly and what the results look like:

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Questions, problems shoot me an email at: bruno(at)brunogebarski(dot)com. I will try to help you: Promise

Bruno

 

 

 

 

 

„Change Fixes the Past. Transformation Creates the Future“

With a striking sketching and a short title, Tanmay Rova  captures in a few words one of the crucial differences between change and transformation.

“Change fixes the past. Transformation creates the future”  —Tanmay Rova

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John Palinkas from CIO Insight gives us additional insight that differentiates transformation from change:

“Change uses external influences to modify actions, but transformation modifies beliefs so actions become natural and thereby achieve the desired result.”

—John Palinkas | http://www.cioinsight.com | @JohnPalinkas

I love the French word “clairvoyance” for the term vision. My native French combines “clair” meaning “clear” and “voyance” meaning “vision” or according Wikipedia, “the alleged ability to gain information about an object, person, location or physical event through extrasensory perception. Extrasensory perception has nothing to do with any Cartesian Excel sheet, a business plan or a to-do-list. It is the combination of a vision, motto and credo that touches our heart and moves us emotionally towards action.

All the musical technique (mastery of an instrument, knowledge of scales, harmony and chords) involved into a bebop Jazz musician improvising on Dizzy Gillespie’s wonderful classic “A night in Tunisia” is irrelevant to most listeners. It is the sound, the colorful melody line, Dizzy Latin influence, the dynamics and the way the theme and music transports us into the delight and pleasure of listening (for those of us who enjoy Bebop Jazz).

We’ve all experienced this emotional inner drive that compels us to buy “things” we don’t need. Organization alike should consider this emotional side of humans and translate it into a clear vision, mission and value statement. An inspiring company vision will rally its workforce towards a cause that transcendences religion, beliefs, personal idiosyncrasies or well known disagreements between Sales and Product Development. Company vision is difficult to express when one of the core priorities is the next quarterly “Frankfurt Main share-value.” The transformational vision given by management should inspire, motivate, and move the entire workforce behind a common clear (clairvoyance) vision. Simon Sinek comes here to the rescue with his excellent insight, pointing out the importance of our dreams (clairvoyance) that inspire people and move them towards action:

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Vision does not express itself best within a business plan, an Excel table or a to-do-list. Transformation goes beyond physical change; it is first a mental or “spiritual” exercise. Our western business models are built on rationale and for the most part non-renewable and non-sustainable short term profit. Character traits such as empathy, forgiveness, love, and unconditional altruism towards others are rarely part of a job interview! These character traits belong to the necessary building block any organization needs to display in order to thrive and grow. How should we then quantify and ratify character traits such as empathy, forgiveness, love, and unconditional altruism towards others into a business plan or an Excel table?

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That’s where an organization’s culture comes in. A company culture reflecting an organization’s vision, mission and values based upon extrasensory perception for each individual to identify himself or herself with! An Organization’s culture all co-workers, partners, and customers can identify with and support.

 

 

Die Acht Schritte Zum Erfolg

1. Positive Einstellung
 
Ihr Erfolg hängt zu 90 Prozent von Ihrer Einstellung ab, nicht umgekehrt.
 
2. Pünktlichkeit
 
Pünktlichkeit sollte für alle selbstverständlich sein
Im Tagesablauf und beim Erkennen von Situationen
 
3. Gute Vorbereitung
 
Auf Ihr Äußeres, Ihre Gebietsverantwortung und Ihre Kunden
Auf Negative und Positive
 
4. Voller Arbeitseinsatz
 
Acht Stunden oder auch mehr
 
5. Effektive Gebietsverarbeitung
 
Keine Vorurteile: Jeder Mensch / jedes Geschäft
Jedes Geschäft kann ein potentieller Kunde werden
Gebietswechsel kostet Ihnen Zeit und Geld
 
6. Behalten Sie Ihre positive Einstellung
 
Schnelle Körbe sind gute Körbe
Der Kunde hat das Recht nein zu sagen
Bleiben Sie stets souverän und freundlich
Jedes Nein bringt Sie zum Abschluss näher
 
7. Werden Sie sich bewusst, warum sie hier sind
 
Wo auf Ihren Karrierewegen sehen Sie sich?
Ohne Ziele erzielen Sie kein Ergebnis
 
8. Üben Sie Kontrolle aus
 
Für Ihre Zukunft sind Sie der Hauptverantwortlicher
Zeigen Sie Eigenmotivation und Lernbereitschaft 

Seven changes for TomTom to implement in order to turn things around: An open letter to TomTom’s Management Board Members

Harold Goddjin (CEO)
Marina Wyatt (CEO)
Alain De Taeye (Board Member)
 
Dear Harold
 
Three years ago, while visiting Austin, Texas, I purchased a PNA (Personal Navigation Assistant) from TomTom at Fry’s Electronics.  Although my PNA works perfectly, major software and hardware improvements should have been considered prior to production of this series.  To this date my TomTom PNA does not inform me if my destination is on the right or on the left hand side of the road; very important information when traveling in any larger city.
Back on the “Old Continent“, I was surprised to see that my PNA’s internal memory would not house the complete set of TomTom’s version of Western European maps thus dividing it into Northern and Southern Europe and forcing me to choose and reload every time I am traveling.  Additionally, my PNA does not provide any slot for additional data cards!  What an antiquated technical limitation considering the fact that memory has never been so readily available. May I respectfully remind you that both Flickr and Yahoo Mail offer a whopping 1TB of free memory, and Google Mail 15 Gigabytes!
However, the main point of this letter is the fact that TomTom charges £74.95 every year to keep the map content updated.
 
TomTom justifies its yearly fee of £ 74.95 by “packaging four updates” within its price.  Harold, do you earnestly want your customers to believe that GPS maps require an update every three months?  Considering the GPS market as a whole, an annual £74.95 price-tag is astronomical when considering the fact that Google provides its navigation app, including all updates, for free!  The one major advantage that TomTom has over free navigation apps for smart phones, is the size of its devices.  For this reason I would like to keep my TomTom GPS device.  However, in order for your company to remain competitive, and I would even go as far as suggesting, in order for it to survive, I would like to strongly make the following recommendation.  Remove the cost of updating maps immediately and make the digital map content available for free!  This must be done if TomTom wants to maintain its business credibility and put an end to the down-sliding of its sales.  Just like I refuse to pay £74.95, I would like to suggest that many other customers feel the same way!  Since 2007, TomTom has lost almost 50% of its sales.  It is time for TomTom to realize that its PNA’s business model is antiquated and possibly soon to become redundant.  It’s better to face reality right now, turn things around, adopt a new business model (more later), than eventually lose the market altogether don’t you think?
 
What is going to be the business future of TomTom? In a recent article: “Navigation device maker TomTom sees Q2 profit fall 14 percent as European crisis hits salesAssociated Press writes:  “TomTom NV, Europe’s largest maker of navigation devices, says its second-quarter net profit fell 14 percent to €8 million ($10.6 million) from the same period a year ago, as sales to car makers were hit by the ongoing financial crisis… The company said Thursday that sales for the quarter dropped 4 percent to €250 million ($331 million), including a 13 percent fall at the automotive division that makes navigation systems built into new cars.”
 
TomTom’s sales woes should not be surprising as the PNA market shrinks in both Europe and Northern America.  In a past article from the GPS News “TomTom Revenue Down 17% in 2012, Outlook for 2013 is Challenging”  “TomTom indicated that the PNAD market size in Europe was 2.5 million units (2012) compared to 3.2 million units in the same quarter of last year (2011)…The North American market size was 2.5 million units (2012) compared to 3.7 million units last year (2012). TomTom market share in North America declined to 19 percent compared to 27 percent in the prior year.”
 
Harold, it is time for TomTom to cut to the chase and face reality and turn things around.  As the Germans rightly say “better an end with a fright than a fright never ending”.  If Tom Tom wants to turnaround and become successful again I would like to suggest the following recommendations:
 
1. Transform your company culture and make it customer-centric.
2. Have every employee at TomTom reapply for his/her job or a new position.
3. Make sure every re-hired employee is 100% in tune with TomTom’s culture.
4. Create cross-functional teams to actively destroy silos and sub-silos.
5. Fire employees (especially mid-management and VPs upholding a silo culture mentality.
6. Move all the digital map material to the cloud and make it available for free and connect your services to Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Google + Yelp and Foursquare.
7. Have the board communicate with end-users and start crowd-sourcing for new PNA ideas.
 
I sincerely wish TomTom much success because I still think there is enough time to turn things around.  Time is pressing on, and TomTom has only three months left in 2013 to implement some of the changes I am suggesting in this blog overview
 
Kind Regards from Hamburg, Germany
 
Bruno P. Gebarski 

 

Five Crowd-Sourcing Lessons Learned from a Retail Business Moving its Shop Location

Manuka Wholefoods is a remarkable little shop owned by a family of New Zealanders living in Chichester (West Sussex) in the southern part of the United Kingdom.  Manuka Wholefoods retails a full array of organic products such as grocery, dairy products, fruit and veggies, skin and body care, nutritional supplements and organic wines.
 
For personal reasons, the Manuka Wholefoods business owners had to travel right before relocating their shop within Chichester.  Beyond the traditional emails sent to their customer database, the on-site working crew, led by highly capable and motivated Shop Manager Claire Burgess, decided to give customers a little map-flyer helping them to visualize the new location.
 
1. First, start the crowd-sourcing project within your own team
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Creating a readable map everybody could understand turned out to be a challenge. Claire could have printed out the typical Google map, had it photocopied and “voila, here you go customers, take it or leave it!  But insightful Claire Burgess wanted to go a step further. She decided that not only should customers understand and be able to read her map, but more importantly customers should be able to visualize the new shop location.  In order to create the best possible drawing, Claire first sought advice from her own team.  By doing so, she enthusiastically included them in the project while gaining their motivation and support.  
 
2. Crowd-source with own employees for personnel engagement and motivation
 
The three Manuka Wholefoods team members had different views and expectations on what the map should look like.  After briefly conferring with each other, they all decided to try out a Google version.  At that time, the Google map seemed the logical choice since the team could perfectly understand the directions from the old location to the new. 
 
3. Test your idea and ask for genuine feedback from your crowd
 
Claire Burgess went one step further.  She started showing the map to her customers, and asked them if they could visualize and understand where the shop was going?  Although 80% of Manuka Wholefoods’ customer base is from Chichester, most of the customers to whom the map was shown had genuine difficulties reading it and understanding where the shop was moving to.  Claire’s team realized that many of their customers did not know the street names or names of the city landmarks.  The team had to pause and accept the fact that the map they created and perceived as logical and easy to follow, came across to the majority of their customers as confusing.  The quintessential lesson they learned was the fact that they did not find out until they genuinely started to ask.
 
4. You miss the point if your business gets it, but your “crowd” or customers don’t
 
Manuka Wholefoods’ sales team started asking customers for suggestions.  It became clearer that a readable map would have to be made from scratch.  Unneeded street names were removed.  Thanks to the help of many customers, the map became a crowd-manufactured effort featuring four arrows originating from the former shop and ending at the new location.  The customers preferred a map overview with directions along the main roads rather than the most direct route along unfamiliar streets. Furthermore, customers then requested that it would help if pictures of known landmarks and shops could be added to the map to create a complete visual of the new location.
 
ManukaWholefoods is moving-medium 
5. Assume nothing and get your crowd’s attention
 
Although posters announcing the move were strategically placed, these seemed to be of little use unless pointed out to customers. In this day and age, we are all busy, preoccupied and in a rush.  We see but do not read; we hear but do not listen! That’s
why folks, with any message you want to communicate, you’ve got to get people’s attention.  We all are creatures of habit. We often overestimate the relevance of a message by genuinely assuming that people are interested. 
 
Once the map had been finalized, 750 copies were personally given out by Claire Burgess and her team.  Furthermore Manuka Wholefoods will have to distribute additional flyers to encourage its customers to create new shopping habits. How many customers will forget and realize that the location has changed when suddenly faced with the old empty shop?  Over the next three to six months, Manuka Wholefoods will have to remind, coach and reward customers for having adjusted to a major change:  shopping at its new location.
 
What is your crowd-sourcing experience as a business owner?  What are some of the lessons you’ve had the chance to learn? I am looking forward to your comments and suggestions:  Until next time, I wish you all a successful week.