At this time of year, along with developing your business plan for the coming year, you should be reviewing your company’s Mission (or Core Purpose) statement, Vision statement, and list of Core Values. The Mission is your “reason for being,” the purpose of the business beyond providing income for the owner and stakeholders. The Core Values represent your organization’s personality. They define how you behave, how you treat each other, and the values that drive your priorities.
Vision, or Future Vision as we term it at Violand Management, is what you want your business to become; what you will achieve or create. A part of that Vision is the size of your company in terms of revenue, number of locations or geographic scope, and the breadth of services you will provide. In our recently updated training designed to lead business planners through the process of defining their Future Vision, we explain the need for a Flag — a measurable target you set for your business to achieve 10 or more years in the future. Your Flag can be a quantifiable goal or one that is more qualitative. In the early 1960s, NASA had the Flag: To land a man on the moon and return him safely to earth.
Focus is an important element when defining the Future Vision. Many companies will include a statement like: We will be the best (service provided) company in (geographic market area). What’s missing here is the “for whom” focus. That is, by which customer groups or target markets will they be considered “the best” at what they do? Strategically, narrowing the focus will force your organization to better understand the needs of those particular customers and should change your people’s perspective to thinking about what is most important for the customer rather than simply how to sell more services.
The market focus may be tied to the owner’s desire for a more profitable business or one better known for excellence and customer satisfaction than for being the largest. Ultimately, the answer to “how big will the business become?” is the one that is right for the owner. For some, being “as big as we can be” is the only acceptable answer. For others, having a highly profitable business in the $3 to $5 million revenue range is what they aspire to. Not every owner is at the place in their life where having the highest revenue is what is most important.
The other element in an effective Future Vision is a set of statements we call vivid descriptions. These statements describe what it will be like when the Vision is achieved. Henry Ford’s Vision was: To build a car that every man can afford. One of the vivid descriptions tied to the Vision was: The horse will be gone from our roads. In the early 1960s, Sony Corporation had an ambitious vivid description that read: “Made in Japan” will mean something fine, not shoddy. Your vivid description should include passion, conviction, emotion, and help to paint a clearer picture for those in the organization of where you are going and what that will look like. An effective Future Vision — enhanced with appropriate vivid descriptions — serves to not only define a successful future, but to inspire those in the organization to want to be part of something bigger; to be committed to helping the business reach its Flag.
For those who have already developed a Vision statement, you should review it with your team to ensure it remains appropriate. Consider establishing a Flag for the business if your Vision does not currently contain a metric for success. Encourage your people to draft vivid descriptions, then spend time reviewing and discussing them as a group to distill them down to the few that are most meaningful.
As with any journey, knowing the ultimate destination is paramount. Your business is no different. Everyone in your organization needs to understand what you are trying to achieve — where you are going and what’s your Flag. Engage your team in putting these ideas in writing and review them regularly to ensure they remain appropriate. As you go through the planning process, you will be focused on what is most important to achieve in the next 12 to 18 months. Just be sure to never lose sight of the ultimate goal for which you are aiming.