A robust vision will give you hope and save you time, stress and money.
I suggest to you, “let’s go for a walk.” You decide it’s a great idea and stop what you’re doing. You get up and we head outside. Before we get started on the walk, take a moment. Close your eyes and actually imagine it.
Where are you? What are you looking at? Is it windy? A little cold? Or warm and refreshing? What sounds can you hear?
I then tell you, “go and buy the map, food, supplies and pack your clothes.” You look confused. Rightly so. You can’t do that yet. You don’t know WHY you need to buy it and WHAT it’s for. You first need to understanding where you are going.
Everyone can visualise going on a walk, however, we all visualise walking to different places, in different ways, in different conditions. For your team it’s impossible for them to walk together without the common goal. They walk off one way seeing something exciting and then you have to run after them and put them back on course. But, to be honest even you aren’t totally sure where you are going.
A powerful vision statement is the means to empower each staff member with direction. They can then work together to make a plan and the whole team can start running at a steady pace until they get there.
There Is A Better Way
Visions normally fit into one of two camps. They seem too hard to write or they are not meaningful enough to provide meaningful direction. The challenge is to clarify the vision and take the time to write it down, ensuring that it connects with readers in a meaningful way.
Jim Collins scientifically studied company success with an amazing group of researches. They found a great vision has three components:
- What you are passionate about?
- What you can be the best at?
- What is your drives your profit?
Your vision (or biggest company goal) is the intersection between your passion, your brand promise and what drives your profit
What Are You Fanatically Passionate About?
If you really don’t believe in what you’re doing then when the going get’s tough you’ll give up. I know providing for your family or keeping up with your friends can be pretty motivating, but we are looking for something deeper. A higher cause you and your team believe in.
Start by writing a list of what you would be proud of your company achieving. What you would love to read about yourselves in the newspaper. Then ask yourself why you would be proud of that?
Sony back in 1954 “The sheer joy of innovation and the application of technology for the benefit and pleasure of the general public” – this was before they even produced their first radio.
Why is knowing your passion so important? It allows you to draw on your strengths and higher purpose.
Why Are You The Best? – Your Brand Promise
We are in business and it’s a competitive market out there. What can your brand promise your customer that another competitor can’t? And equally important what can’t it promise?
- McDonalds brand promises that they can deliver a clean, quick burger, at low prices that tastes pretty much the same anywhere in the world.
- Apple’s brand promises to provide the latest in style and lifestyle design.
- Google’s brand promises to find the information you are looking for quicker than anyone else.
What sets you apart?
What Drives Your Profit?
Awesome, now you know your passion, and you can the best at something. Things are looking up. The last empowering question is “how can you drive profit in one KPI?”
I’m not talking about straight $ profit, but $ per something. Profit per customer, profit per visit, profit per risk level. If you could pick one and only one ratio-profit per x to systematically increase over time, what x would have the greatest and most sustainable impact on long term profit?
This is the measure you stress in all meetings and have your managers constantly focus on.
For example, in the book Good to Great Jim Collins explains the American convenience store Walgreens switched their focus from profit per store to profit per customer visit. Renting convenient locations is expensive, but by increasing profit per customer visit, Walgreens increased the number of stores it had to (nine stores every 2km) and simultaneously increased profitability.
Write The Big Hairy Audacious Goal
Your vision is your Big Hairy Audacious Goal. It’s your aspirational goal in one short statement. Here are some rules for writing powerful vision statements:
- Make it represent the overlap between your passion, brand promise, and profit measure
- Make it time bound. Will you actually get there? The time periods depends on the size of your company. For a start-up set it at 2 years. For a medium sized business- 5 years. For a large organisation – 20 years.
- It cannot include the word “And.” If you have, it means you have two directions. Pick one.
- Remove all vague words like: manage, appropriate, efficient, effective
- Ask yourself: “Could a dry cleaning business have the same vision?” In other words, is this really tailored to our business?
- Make sure it gets you a bit excited. You will want to tell this to your friends and family
- Are you willing to put significant effort to reach this vision?
- Can you really deliver it? It should stretch you, but still be possible?
Sony in 1954 – Vision (BHAG):
“Become the company most known for changing the worldwide image of Japanese products as being of poor quality”
Did they make their vision a reality? Will you make yours a reality?