Rachel Letby, Director of Crail Consulting, explains why creating and articulating your company’s vision is intrinsically linked to success
“It’s strange that so many quotes used in business come from a book written for children, ‘Alice in Wonderland’. And yet not so strange on reflection, as the simplicity of language and succinctness used to describe concepts and ideas in children’s books is the very same as you would find in a well written piece of business text. In fact, it’s more difficult to write like that rather than to produce reams and reams of verbose text! This particularly applies to the development and articulation of a vision for an organisation.
“So much is written about developing a vision, but at its most basic level, it is simply an aspiration for the organisation, usually with a timeline. However, it is critical to the success of an organisation. As Richard Reed, co-founder of the mega successful Innocent Company discovered: ‘the most successful companies are clear about why they are here’. A clear vision helps to guide decisions about what you want to keep and grow, what you want to discard and what you want to develop. As Alice in Wonderland’s Cheshire Cat points out, if you ‘don’t know where you’re going then it doesn’t matter which route you take’.
“This means that key management and leadership activities can be made to a single point of reference: the vision; rather than in isolation from each other. Consequently, the vision should be the pinnacle from which cascades all key organisational elements such as strategy, planning, resourcing, communications, performance management and the like.
“The vision doesn’t just help managers and leaders of the organisation. The Economist Intelligence Unit carried out a survey called ‘Re-engaging with Engagement’. 36% of respondents said that most employee motivation was due to a ‘clear vision from the management team’. The vision gives them a clear connection between what they are doing and how it contributes to the success of the organisation.
“However, in practice, we’ve found many company visions are flabby. This is not due to a lack of commitment, if anything it’s due to the enthusiasm to cram as much in as possible!
“A good vision should give the organisation permission to believe in itself, and be compelling. It’s ambitious, specific to your business and aligned to your values. The ideal is a maximum of 3 sentences with simple and understandable language.
“We’ll discuss how you can develop that vision, communicate and realise your vision in future blogs, because as American business executive Jack Welch said:
“Good business leaders CREATE a vision,
ARTICULATE the vision,
Passionately OWN the vision,
and relentlessly DRIVE it to completion.”