Posted tagged ‘mission’

The Four Questions You Must Answer and The Importance of Your Vision

September 4, 2008

It’s time then to get down to the more practical aspects of creating a business strategy.

Fundamentally speaking, every strategic plan must answer these four questions and they must be answered in this very logical progression:

  1. Who are we?
  2. What are we?
  3. What do we want to be?
  4. What can stop us from getting there?

The answer to the first question is articulated in the mission and vision of the company. The mission states what business we are in and what we do and provide for our clients.

However, it is the vision of what the company hopes to become that establishes the strategic direction for the organization. An effective vision lays out a future about what the company hopes to become. It typically is uncomfortable, much like clothing that is too big because it doesn’t fit who we are today. (I still remember that as a child, my Mom would always say “don’t worry, you’ll grow into it.” Visions are just like that.)

The vision states the value that we are ultimately committed to providing to our clients, employees, stockholders and even ourselves. It motivates us to stretch beyond where we are today.

Establishing a vision first is critical because it becomes our corporate compass. It sets a direction and destination for the company. The tactical options that we choose to implement must propel us towards reaching that destination, and so, the vision helps us to make intelligent choices. When opportunities present themselves we are able to evaluate them in a context of whether it moves us forward and whether it moves us forward more effectively than the other options that are available to us.

It is important to recognize that understanding the vision is a requirement for every member of the organization. If you subscribe to the belief, as I do, that every job in a company is meaningful – otherwise why do it or pay someone to do it? – then you must conclude that every employee will be expected to make choices on behalf of the company. The greatest tool that we may provide to our people is the vision as it will provide the context for so many decisions.

A vision is very different from goals and objectives. Goals and objectives are predictions of what we are going to accomplish or do in the next weeks or months or quarter to get to our vision. The vision though must come first as it is the foundation for goal setting that is based in the future and not in the past.

I think therefore I…strategize?

August 14, 2008

It took me a very long time to have the courage to begin this blog. I’ve received a lot of encouragement from friends and family and especially my 15 year old son, Eli (he has a blog too). I’ve also tried to learn how to write in a way that I hope will inspire others as I have been inspired by the people in my life.

The “tipping point” for starting to write this blog was reading an excellent book titled “Naked Conversations” by Robert Scoble and Shel Israel. They helped me to understand the whys and the hows of blogging and by the time I was done reading much of it, I decided it was worth the effort to <gulp> take the plunge.

I hope neither of us regret this 🙂

So here’s why I’m doing this.

The single most important thing that I’ve learned over the last 25 years of consulting (see About page) is that companies and organizations would do a lot better and make a much more meaningful contribution to society if they took the time or learned to answer four questions:

1. Who are we?

2. What are we?

3. What do we want to be?

4. What can stop us from getting there?

These questions are the core questions not only of creating any strategy but of being successful and, I think, happy.

I’m hoping that I can contribute to a dialogue that gives people a way to get at the essence of these questions and in doing so, help make a difference…because if companies get better at answering these questions, there should be better and more rewarding jobs, more growing communities and generally speaking, a better and happier world.

A pretty bold and lofty goal, huh? I think so too but I also think that the rewards justify the risk and investment of having this conversation.

Anyway, here’s my plan.

I’m planning to write — pretty regularly. I’m planning to present methods that I have found to be useful. I also want you to get to know the people in my life who, by virtue of their passion or some element of their character , teach me every single day a valuable insight that I try to make core to what I do and how I personally contribute. Lastly, from time to time I expect I’ll take a left turn and apply strategy to what is going on around us such as the management principles that made it necessary for the Packers to move Brett Favre. (yup, at a certain point they really had no choice.)

So that’s what I am signing up for.

And here’s what will be asked of you. I’m hoping that you’ll teach, challenge and make me smarter. I can promise you that I’m a pretty good listener and I catch on quick. Together I hope we’ll make one plus one equal at least three.

More tomorrow…and so the journey begins.


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