Monthly Archives: January 2016

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.

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“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:

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Ten fundamental questions organizations should regularly ask themselves:

  1. What do our workers and customers say about our organization?
  2. What are the values our organization creates for our workforce, vendors and investors?
  3. What are the core values driving our company vision?
  4. What is the core purpose or raison d’être (reason of existence) for our organization?
  5. What are the values our company provides to our consumers?
  6. What is our company known for?
  7. What are the values our organizations creates in the world
  8. What is the renewable and sustainable contribution our organization makes to our environment?
  9. What is our organization perceived for: cutting edge or bleeding edge?
  10. 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.

 

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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?