As we stand on the cusp of a new year, it is a perfect time for a refresher on company vision: how to establish it, how to get people to align around it, and how to execute it.
Establishing a Vision
Establishing a vision for your business is the first step in developing a solid strategy. Your company’s vision should be a realistic statement of aspiration based on what you are today and what you want to become in the future. To establish an engaging vision for your company, we recommend using eight key questions delineated in the Entrepreneurial Operating System® (EOS®):
- What are your Core Values™? Your Core Values™ define the culture you live every day. They are the guiding principles around which you should build your team.
- What is your Core Focus™? A company’s Core Focus has two parts and is explained by EOS Worldwide in this way: “The first part of defining your Core Focus is to discover your ‘Why’ – your common purpose, cause, or passion. It’s why you get out of bed in the morning, why you’re excited to come to work, and why all the hard work is worth it in the end….The second part of your Core Focus is to identify your ‘What.’ We call this your niche – the thing you can be truly great at and enjoy doing.”
- What is your 10-year target? Here is where you think “big picture.”
- What is your (high level) marketing strategy? Consider the profile of your ideal customer, what differentiates you in the marketplace, how you engage with your customers, and what you promise your customers.
- What is your 3-year picture? Keeping your 10-year target in mind, define where you want to be in three years to march toward that finish line.
- What is your 1-year plan? Continue breaking it down! Set specific goals – we advise no more than seven – for the next twelve months that will keep your progress on track.
- What are your Rocks™ (quarterly priorities)? Here’s where the rubber really meets the road: what are you going to do in the next 90 days? This is where you begin!
- What are the issues getting in the way of achieving all of this? Finally, consider the problems and opportunities that you need to tackle to get where you want to go.
A clear company vision truly makes a concrete difference because it is both practical and actionable. It defines the long-term target for your company, forms the basis for you to establish a set of strategic goals, and keeps you focused as you execute your plan on a daily basis.
Aligning People Around the Vision
Once you have a clear picture of your ideal future state, you have to get people aligned around the vision. Let’s be clear: alignment is not just intellectual acceptance. It is excitement. It is engagement. It is energy. To use a picture image, alignment is not a person dipping an occasional oar into the water – it is a team of scullers pulling in unison and giving it all they’ve got. To achieve this kind of dynamic alignment, you need to:
- Be crystal clear. To return to the sculling analogy, athletes know where the finish line is and what it will take to get there. You need to be equally clear in communicating the corporate vision. Explain what it is and why it is important.
- Make the personal connection. You want your company’s vision to become people’s personal vision as well. Therefore, you need to paint the picture in such terms that it ties into people’s hopes and dreams. Only by making the vision personal will you get the commitment you are seeking.
- Communicate and communicate again. Leadership teams never communicate enough. If you think you have communicated your vision enough, trust us … communicate it again!
- Keep the conversation going. To make sure your vision is clear and that people are connecting with it, you need a lot of two-way conversations. Exchange perspectives, listen to questions and concerns, and be receptive to new ideas from people across your enterprise.
At its core, your vision should be both aspirational and inspirational. You want to get all your people headed in the same direction, and you want to fill them with life and energy to take on the journey joyfully.
Executing on the Vision
Casting a vision is exhilarating. Aligning people around a vision is exciting. Executing on a vision? Well, there’s no way to sugarcoat it: execution is long-haul hard work. It is no wonder, then, that poor execution is the graveyard where visions go to die. To ensure that your vision remains vibrantly alive, you will need to:
- Set SMART goals. SMART goals are Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Timely. The SMART method takes the ambiguity out of your goals, enabling you to make much more progress in transforming your vision into reality. Read more here.
- Establish accountability. Accountability means simply that each person – no matter what position they hold – understands what they are responsible for, takes those responsibilities seriously, and does everything they can to deliver on those responsibilities. A responsibility may be something as large as getting a massive project done on time, or as small as reviewing a report. Check out more on accountability here.
- Keep a scorecard. Metrics are vital for effective execution. To keep on track, you need to pay attention to relevant daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly, and annual metrics. Find more here on how to decide what to track.
- Deal with issues. Execution is never a totally smooth road. Never. Issues are going to arise – problems with people, problems with projects, problems with products … anything can happen in business and, given enough time, probably will. Face each issue as it arises to keep your company on track. Discover how here.
Establish your vision. Align your people around it. Execute on it ruthlessly. And then, take one further step: celebrate your victories. Celebrate the small wins and the big accomplishments. Let people know how much you appreciate their commitment and hard work. Celebration breathes new life into your vision, giving your people the inspiration they need to keep their eyes on the finish line.