What does your business look like when it’s done? What does your business want to be? A vision essentially addresses those top line questions. It also give business shape, purpose and direction1. Articulated well, visions let the people within the business know where they stand and where they are going. The whole business can then consolidate their efforts through the unification of thoughts and ideas.
Therefore, writing a vision and making it known is one of the first sets of actions the leader in a business should undertake. And the good news is, there is no right or wrong way of developing a vision. It could be a simple single sentence or it could a series of statements that support the ethos of the business.
Additionally, visions act as an active influencer within a business. It’s a mechanism for leaders to empower their teams to create growth initiatives and activities that support the vision. A vision is shared experience for the whole organisation.
To avoid a statement that is fluffery or rhetoric, the best way to approach a vision is to ensure it has a practical application. It needs to be understood by both the company and the customers it serves, and all activities that the business performs reflects and supports that view.
There is a raft of question that a Business Owner/Leader needs to answer before attempting a vision, these are typically made up of the following:
- What is your product or service? Name your core offering.
- Who are you selling to? Who is your ideal customer or client?
- Where is your business located now? Do you want to expand? If so, where to?
- What is the personality of the Business Owner/Leader? Is that the personality that will describe the business moving forward?
- How does the Business Owner/Leader feel about the business? How does the team within the business feel about it?
- What is the one singular memorable area in the business that makes it stand out?
- What does your business aspire or dream to become?
- What do your customers and clients say about you? Are there any positive recurring words or sentiments that you hear repeated time and time again? Customer Surveys may produce negative as well as positive results2, both are equally valid. It’s what you do with the information that counts. Look at the positives and work on the areas for improvement. It may be the customer surveys have shaped the vision in a completely different direction.
- Sense check your responses. Are your answers true and honest?
Once a complete view of the business is in place and all the relevant the questions have been answered, keywords will fall out and start to formulate what the vision of the business actually looks like. It may be that a business’ product or service has very good delivering capabilities, and the business wants to strive toward excellence in that delivery. Therefore the vision may sound like “we deliver the best Australian building supplies”. Examples of how keywords are used can be shown in the below:
The world’s most customer-centric company.
Apple designs Macs, the best personal computers in the world, along with OS X, iLife, iWork, and professional software. Apple leads the digital music revolution with its iPods and iTunes online store. Apple reinvented the mobile phone with its revolutionary iPhone and App Store, and has recently introduced its magical iPad which is defining the futureof mobile media and computing devices.
To create a better every day life for many people.
Google's official mission or vision statement is to organize all of the data in the world and make it accessible for everyone in a useful way. Google also has an unofficial motto to avoid being evil.
To provide our customers with the widest range of home improvement products at the lowest prices everyday, backed with the best service.
After a vision has been created, then a cluster of activities can be listed in order to achieve and support the statement. If there are ‘gaps’ in the business, meaning there are activities that are not being performed but are now needed to be put in place, then those can be easily identified and developed. This could be in the form of re-training sales staff to be less transactional and more relationship orientated with sales kits that have a set of behaviours and phrases that the business would like said “on the floor”. Another area may be in a business’ operations, and revisiting all supplier contracts to ensure the cost per unit is competitive and the quality of the product isn’t compromised. And as each area of the business is reviewed and measured, it is evident that the vision is now a living, workable entity in the business.
Firstly, we have a vision. Perfect. The Business Owner/Leader has plans in place and teams are starting to understand what they are doing and where they are going.
Now, the dynamics in the team of the business are a major focus.
Can the team work together to create innovations for the business? Can the team independently and organically develop the business further? If the answer is an unflappable yes to both those questions then you have achieved “synergy”.
The definition of synergy in this case is “the interaction of elements, when combined, create a total effect greater than the individual sum”. The group effort is far greater and powerful when working together than when each member is working on their own. How can we develop synergy in our groups? There are few key ingredients that can be cultivated together to achieve synergy, and they are4:
- Common Interests - finding shared interests naturally gravitates people together.
- Common Values - such as humility, honesty, trust, sets the right foundations
- Complimentary talents - a variation of roles/skills across different areas such as the PAEI model (Producer, Administrator, Entrepreneur, Interrogator)5 bringing about innovations and improvements.
These three ingredients will bring a team that can share their thoughts, raise problems in the spirit of the group solving them, develop, contribute to, and build on new ideas. And in turn, generate synergetic energy in the team and across the business. So when thinking back to the vision and how teams can use them - visions are the overarching notion that helps teams seamlessly come together with a common goal to very simply get on the same page ….and stay there.
2 Lundin, S. C., Paul, H., Christiensen J. (p90-91) Fish! A Remarkable Way to Boost Morale and Improve Results Hodder & Stoughton. London UK.
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