Building a great company that will last is not just about branding and of course strategic integrated online marketing solutions. For a company to become great means many things. You must focus on three key elements: your employees, your clients, and your shareholders. You must satisfy specific needs for each. Companies that maintain steady growth do so by constantly pursuing new business opportunities (sales), providing a great service and therefore retaining clients, being a great place to work with an engaging culture, and by having a great vision and team alignment with that vision.
So what does it mean for a company to have a Vision? There is more to it than just getting top managers in a room and drafting some long difficult to understand Vision Statement. Often times, that is where it ends. The company drafts a vision statement, posts it somewhere, and then moves on to the next task. This is not just an exercise that companies should do because they feel they have to. Developing a great Vision involves some key elements. A Vision framework includes: Core Ideaology and an Envisioned Future. Core Ideology is made up of Core Values and Core Purpose. We will talk about the differences later in this blog. An Envisioned Future is a combination of what is know is a Big, Hairy, Audacious Goal (BHAG) and a Vivid Description. See the chart below to understand how these components fit together.
Let’s talk about Core Ideology. The first element of this is Core Values. This is another thing that many companies take too lightly, especially start-ups. Core Values are not just for large corporations nor are they a list of attributes that you wish your company embodied but doesn’t. Its about identifying the values that your company actually holds. These values should be the guiding principles that mold behaviors and decision making. You company should cease to exist without them. Technology, business models, and opportunities will change constantly but your Values never should.
Core Purpose is a bit different. A company’s Core Purpose is its reason for being. Take Tom’s Shoes for example. What do they do? They sell shoes. Is that their core purpose? No. Their entire business model is about giving free shoes to impoverished children all over the world. A great exercise is called the “Five Whys”. Gather your team in a room and ask the question “What do we do?”. To whatever answer is given ask Why? Then to that answer ask Why again. This helps you really drill down on understanding why you do what you do and what it means to your employees and customers. Again, this is something that should never change. Here at IMI our Core Purpose is to help companies grow by providing ROI focused integrated online marketing solutions.
Core Values and Core Purpose make up Core Ideology and this should be the foundation of your company’s existence and should never change.
An Envisioned Future is the forward thinking part of developing a great Vision for your company. It is meant to be so aggressive and exciting that it inspires people to try to accomplish things that they think are beyond grasp. As mentioned above, the Envisioned Future is a combination of the BHAG and a Vivid Description. The BHAG is a 10 to 30 year goal that you have a 50% to 75% probability of hitting. Or at least that is a basic definition. You might be thinking 10 to 30 years?!! Yes that is a long way off and business owners who want their companies to last have to think beyond their tenure and even their generation. Some of the great companies out there have held BHAG’s that last 100 years. For example, Henry Ford’s big audacious goal was to democratize the automobile and make it so affordable that everyone in the world would have one. City Bank (now Citi Corp) set their BHAG in 1915 to become the world’s largest and most serviceable financial institution. They were just a small regional bank at the time. Nike is another great example. Their big audacious goal was simply to crush Adidas. Your BHAG can be a financial goal, market share goal, competitive goal, or anything that you may want to accomplish. It could even be how you want your company to be perceived.
The Vivid Description concept is more about creating a picture in one’s mind about how you see your business 10 to 30 years. What does it look like? What will it be like to work there? What do customers and competitors say about you? Again, it can really be anything.
All of the elements discussed make up the Vision Framework. How can a company make strategic decisions and shape their future without having a Vision in mind? Companies that don’t might be able to make it work for a while but eventually everyone is going to stop and say “Where are we headed and why do I come to work every day”? That is why having engagement and alignment from everyone in the company is so important. You want to hire people that fit your Core Values and that will embrace the overall Vision. Those people will be your key players and most likely stick around. And if they do, your business will continue to grow!