Vision is a squishy subject that makes normally confident executives squirm.
Vision is Big. Important Stuff everyone's expected to subscribe to.
But in an effort to find Universal Buy-In most efforts drain any real
substance from the issue, leaving nothing to disagree with. But also no
direction. The vision nets out to one of the embarrassingly trite mission
statements immortalized by Dilbert's cadre of managers -- "Go
An effective Vision is neither a PR positioning statement or a HR propaganda
slogan. It needs to identify what's going on in the world and what
the corporate entity intends to do about it. It should guide decisions.
Most of all it absolutely must have Universal-Buy-In...meaning the process
that creates Vision absolutely positively must be founded on the relevant
-- and mutually agreed upon -- facts/issues driving the corporate destiny.
The tool delivers 20/20 vision. Describes what's going on in the competitive
jungle and actions required do something about it. It produces a realistic
and relevant understanding of how the world is changing. Provides direction
to resolve future-forward issues that have not yet been recognized. Creates
clear-cut delineations of opportunities and an early warning of impending
-- but still avoidable -- disasters. Generates checklists of existing
and must-develop corporate capabilities and assets. Leads to practical
decisions instead of theoretical discussions.
Most importantly the process itself creates Universal-Buy-In. Eliminates
the turf-wars. Deadlocks. And gets stalemated managers off the dime. It
does this in two ways: First it provides an empirical basis for resolving
disputes. It centers discussion on relevant facts and minimizes decision
making based on "I think" vs "In my opinion." Secondly
-- and this is key -- it forces the young tigers and old praetorian guard
that manage the functional silos within the corporate structure to do
it together. Select the relevant facts. String them into critical issues.
Synthesize them into workable strategic directives.
The process involves a four step effort in which the beneficiaries themselves
generate the critical insights and gain achieved -- rather than received
-- wisdom. Key executives assigned to the Vision Team and a panel of demographers,
sociologists, academicians, suppliers, customers, futurists and industry-watchers
compile a diverse assortment of hard facts and soft speculations that
collectively represent the DNA of corporate change.
In a day-long workshop members of the Vision Team individually select
related DNA components which can be synthesized into a cohesive DNA strand
carrying a genetic function relevant to long term corporate growth. These
individual constructs are submitted for the review, revision and recombination
efforts of the Team who then debate the relative merits of each chain
and ultimately select half a dozen DNA constructs to synthesize into a
comprehensive Vision. Because the data-set is real, relevant and has an
audit trail tracing back to a set of facts or credible future-forward
speculations -- and because managers are not force fed input by outsiders
but derive and debate the issues most relevant to their corporate responsibilities
-- the exercise delivers a big payoff: 20/20 Vision + Universal Buy-In.
The executive team reconvenes with the purpose of determining how each
of the selected DNA strands engineered into the Vision will impact the
value chain -- from R&D to Customer Service -- for every line of business.
The recognition of these genetic changes amount to a comprehensive projection
of exploitable opportunities available to the corporation. Or an early
warning of impending -- but still avoidable -- disasters. Both suggest
the corporate assets, structure, systems, strategies, skills, staff and
shared values the corporation must develop -- or acquire -- to evolve
into the entity most likely to thrive in the envisioned world in which
it will compete.
If the corporate vision looks like a smudged Xerox platitude that's
been customized by a scotch taped corporate logo it's time to wonder
how the thing that controls the corporate heart, soul, guts and nervous
system can differentiate it from direct competitors. Or other shareholder
investment options. Or even other employers.
Vision Quest was created in response to Ameritech's question: what
is vision...and how do we capture it? It was a world class question worthy
of any corporation determined to maintain a competitive edge in a running
battle with world-class competitors.
In addition to the Telcos, other institutions that would particularly
need to develop 20/20 vision include the deregulated gas and electric
industry. Any hi-tech operation interested in crossing the legendary chasm
between early adopter successes and mainstream consumer markets. PC's
searching for a response to the shake-up precipitated by Dell's direct
selling vision. Businesses dealing with the evolving baby boomer phenomenon.
And virtually anyone impacted by the internet.
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