Posts Tagged ‘Vision’

Dilbert Vision

When I think of ambitious goals that I have seen or personally attempted in businesses I’ve worked at, it is easy to recall some that were successfully achieved and others that were not.  Of course, there are many factors that go into the success or failure of each individually, but I’d like to share some thoughts around the high-level components of any major endeavor and the business personnel implications of those components.

Vision.  Someone or some group of people needs to have and share a vision that others buy into.  If the company is to be more than it has been, if it is to make forward advances rather than maintain the status quo, then that vision needs to exist, be communicated, and willingly shared by those expected to implement the necessary actions to support the vision.

Some leaders are outstanding at this, sharing a vision and then providing high-level guidance, wisdom, and inspiration to keep the ship on the right path.  Others, unfortunately, may think they are good at this, fancying themselves as vision casters while the people lower in the org chart know it’s just a passing fancy most likely influenced by the latest book, article or conference to which the leader was exposed – one that will only be top of mind until another book, article or conference replaces it.  People in the trenches learn to not pay much attention to these types of pronouncements.

While those at the helm of organizations should be the primary sources of vision for their orgs, they should not discount the potential insights and contributions of others at any level of the org chart.  Being visionary is not limited to certain roles or pay scales.  Vision from others in the org need not compete with the large-scale vision for the whole enterprise.  It may relate only to a specific part of the business with which that employee has great familiarity.  As long as such smaller scale visions fit within the larger ones, they may be great assets to help move the enterprise forward.

Plans.  Some may not like me grouping strategy in with the plans section here, but I do that with the understanding that strategy refers to the high-level plans which must, of course, be broken down into far more detail for implementation.  How many times in different settings have we heard some grand vision proposed, only to never see it come anywhere close to fruition?  Why does that happen?  Perhaps because the vision was never translated into the necessary strategy and detail plans to make it happen.  Merely thinking about a direction we want to go (vision) doesn’t actually move the needle in that direction.  It takes plans and the people who are good at making those plans to take this vital step.

Action.  Finally, the plans have to be carried out.  They may or may not be executed exactly as originally planned, based on the ongoing evaluation process used to make adjustments and changes as needed, but it’s certain that the vision won’t become reality without people actually taking action to get it done.

It should be obvious that any major initiative in business needs the three components above.  Visions without plans die.  Plans without actions fail.  Actions that are not tied to plans made to implement the larger vision are wastes of time and resources.  That isn’t earth-shattering news.

However, there are personnel implications that we may need to remind ourselves of from time to time in light of the above components.  First, it will take a variety of people, skill sets, and personality types to fill all the roles required to formulate the vision, make the plans, and implement them.  Very few people are good at all three of the above.  Many enthusiastic entrepreneurs ultimately fail because they do not have and do not hire to account for the breadth of abilities it takes to handle everything from seeing the big picture to implementing the detail actions needed.  In a large organization, though, there is more likely a variety of people available to get the job done if they are properly positioned in the effort according to their passions and abilities.

It is tempting when hiring for an organization to hire others like ourselves.  After all, each of us thinks he/she is wonderful, right?  We might think, “How can I go wrong with adding more people like me?”  The truth, however, is that in addition to our strengths, we also have weaknesses whether we see them very clearly or not.  We’re really not good at everything individually, and it’s in our best interests as well as the organization’s for us to know where we need help.  We need people around us who are complementary (as in completing the knowledge and skills needed by a team) rather than just complimentary (as in paying us compliments).

If we do a good job at bringing on a variety of people to make up the right teams, then another challenge will quickly present itself – learning how to get along with a mix of others.  That takes people skills, some positive character traits, and a willingness to work together in spite of occasional differences.  It can be done with the right team.

When our team at work was looking to expand recently, we had to take time to consider where our gaps were, where we needed help, and what new roles fit within the overall vision of where we are going and our strategy for getting there.  I’m pleased to say that last week was the first week for our newest teammate to join us and next week we’ll welcome another addition to the team.  Those additions, along with shuffling some responsibilities between team members, will better position us to move forward the remainder of this year toward accomplishing the vision for our area, one that we know fits within the larger vision of the enterprise.

It isn’t enough in competitive business today to be mediocre, to remain the same, or to cruise along doing what you’ve always done just because that’s the way it’s always been done.  It takes vision, plans, and action to get from point A to point B in a desired time frame, and it takes the right mix of people all working well together to make the journey successful.

Do you know your company’s vision?  Do you know where you and your area fit within that vision?  Do you have a strategy and plans you can articulate to do your part?  Do you have the right team in place to get it done?