This is an article on building your company’s vision. By James C. Collins and Jerry I. Porras.
A well conceived vision consists of two major components: core ideology and envisioned future. Core ideology, the yin in our scheme, defines what we stand for and why we exist. Yin is unchanging and complements yang, the envisioned future. The envisioned future is what we aspire to become, to achieve, to create – something that will require significant change and progress to attain.
Core ideology consists of core values and core purpose.
- A system of guiding principles and tenets, usually between 3-5 for great companies
- Values must stand the test of time, if circumstances changed and penalised us for holding this core value, then will we change it? The answer must be no. Great company will always remain true to its core values, and will change market rather than its values if it needs to choose.
- Know who you are (won’t change), rather than where you’re going (this will change). Provides the glue that holds the company together as it grows
- If you awoke with enough money for the rest of your life, would you continue living with those core values? Would you hold it if it even it became a competitive disadvantages? If you were to start a new organisation, what core values would you built irrespective of its industry?
- Fundamental reason for existence (a discovery process, to be chased forever),a raison d’être, not to be confused with existing product line, current business goal or strategy
- Primary role of core purpose is to guide and inspire
- Idealistic motivation for doing the work, reason for being, beyond just making money
- Purpose should last at least 100 years, not to be confused with the execution of a strategy or achievement of a goal. Purpose cannot be fulfilled but should aspire change
- Ask 5 why’s: we deliver X products and services because why, why, why, why, why?
- Why is it important that this company continues to exist? What deeper sense of purpose would compel you to work for this company even if you have more than enough money to retire?
You discover core ideology by looking inside. It has to be authentic, you can’t fake it. Core ideology must be meaningful and motivational to the people INSIDE the organisation, repels those whose values are incompatible with the company’s. Find people who are predisposed to sharing your core values. If it’s not core, it’s up for change. Ask yourself, what core values do we truly and passionately hold?
The envisioned future has two elements.
Identify Big Hairy Audacious Goals (BHAG)
- Clearly articulated vision-level goal that can be achieved in 10-30 years
- Every company needs a mountain to be climbed, figuring out your BHAG is a creative process. Make the goals vibrant, tangible and obtainable, catalyst for team spirit. BHAG aids long term vision (clear and compelling, catalyst for team spirit, clear finish line, tangible, takes no explanation), it should have a 50-70% success rate but we must believe it can be achieved. Can be quantitative or qualitative.
Vivid description of what it’ll be like to achieve BHAG
- Clear on what it would be like to achieve it.
- Painting a picture with your words. You must translate the vision from words to pictures with a vivid description of what it will be like to achieve your goal.
- What should this company look like in 20 years?
- The envisioned future will continue to keep the company motivated long after the founding members leave. Needs to get people’s juices flowing.
- Don’t confuse core purpose (to be chased forever, core ideology) with BHAG (reachable over the long-term in an envisioned future)
- Setting envisioned future is a creative process, identifying ideology is a discovery process
- Difference doesn’t lie in setting easier goals, nor strategies, success lies in building the strength of the organisation through clearly articulated visions for the future.