Choosing Your Vision
TIP: Often a core idea is not stated when the company begins but comes from within as the company evolves. Often, it reflects the core purpose of the company’s leader.
A common attribute of the best companies is shared vision and values, lived out every day, says Carla Cross, Carla Cross Seminars, Issaquah, Wash. A vision is based upon:
1. A core idea. This idea defines what a company stands for and why it exists. An organization's core idea guides and inspires its members. The core idea should also reflect the company’s principle values—for example, Nordstrom’s emphasis on personal service.
TIP: A key to developing a challenging envisioned future is creating what many experts call big, hairy audacious goals, or BHAGs. A BHAG is a clearly articulated, ambitious goal that applies to the entire organization and requires 10 to 30 years to complete. It forces management to think beyond the organization's current capabilities and environment, requiring them employ visionary, rather than just strategic or tactical, thinking.
2. An envisioned future. This statement captures the soul of the company, articulating the company aspires to become or achieve. Core ideology is stable and unchanging, while the company must actively work to attain the envisioned future.
Finding Your BHAG
When framing your big, hairy, audacious goals, or BHAGs, says Carla Cross, Carla Cross Seminars, Issaquah, Wash., include a vivid description of what it will be like to achieve the BHAG. This vivid description creates an image people can carry around in their heads and makes the goal tangible. Cross's example: "We sell 100 percent of our listings and we're acknowledged as the most successful real estate company doing that in the nation."
A BHAG focuses company efforts and serves as a catalyst for team spirit. A BHAG can be:
- Quantitative: Become a $125 billion company by the year 2000 (Wal-Mart 1990)
- Qualitative: Democratize the automobile (Ford Motor Company, early 1900s)
- Warrior-like: Crush Adidas (Nike, 1960s)
- Imitative: Become the Harvard of the West (Stanford University, 1940s)
- Transforming: Change this company from a defense contractor into the best diversified high-technology company in the world (Rockwell, 1995)
Portions adapted from “Building Your Company’s Vision,” James C. Collins and Jerry I. Porras, Harvard Business Review, September-October 1996.
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