Your Company Vision: Do You Have One?

This month's blog post comes from Gordon Law, President of Slingshot sister company Swimming Duck.

Someone I know and admire once said "We have a great elevator speech if only our office was on the 35th floor". While his company has subsequently honed their pitch to one that accommodates their office being on the 5th floor, this is a great reminder of how important it is to have a compelling elevator speech which can only be developed when a company has a defined vision.

A vision is not an articulation of the firm's goals, rather it is a vivid picture of what the company should be and is striving to be every day. Certainly goals, especially "big, hairy, audacious goals" (BHAGs) as defined by James C. Collins can be a terrific aid in helping you define your company's vision, but it has to go beyond that. A vision has to inspire, give meaning to the day-to-day and reaffirm the commitment needed to achieve the vision. Here are two great examples – one rather succinct and the other a bit longer:

Amazon: "Our vision is to be earth's most customer centric company; to build a place where people can come to find and discover anything they might want to buy online."

Apple (as professed by CEO Tim Cook): "We believe that we are on the face of the earth to make great products and that's not changing. We are constantly focusing on innovating. We believe in the simple not the complex. We believe that we need to own and control the primary technologies behind the products that we make, and participate only in markets where we can make a significant contribution. We believe in saying no to thousands of projects, so that we can really focus on the few that are truly important and meaningful to us. We believe in deep collaboration and cross-pollination of our groups, which allow us to innovate in a way that others cannot."

If you don’t have a company vision, please don’t wait any longer. Get your employees involved and not just senior management. Maybe even invite some of your clients or customers to participate as well. When your entire constituency becomes part of the process they begin to believe in the business like never before.

We would love to help you develop your company's vision, but if you decide to do it yourself, we believe there are three keys to success:

  1. Make sure the company has clearly articulated their short and long term goals and the people who will be a part of creating the vision know what those goals are.
  2. Be sure to communicate to everyone involved why those goals were selected.
  3. Creating the vision is about making a dream tangible. Make certain you provide your "vision artists" with the environment and the time they need to pull this off.

Once your vision is crafted, make sure it is socialized, revered and lived every day, from the C-Suite on down. Plaster it on the walls throughout your office. Give everyone a t-shirt. Make it everyone's screen saver. Be sure to check in with your employees frequently to make sure they can articulate the vision. Make sure key business decisions are made only if they fit the company vision.

Otherwise you don’t have a vision; you only have words on paper.

In closing, allow me to share perhaps my favorite vision statement of all time, from the Container Store: "Fill the other guy's basket to the brim. Making money then becomes an easy proposition." To me this means "if you make everything that you do about those that you serve, at the end of the day you will prosper more than you could ever imagine". How simple and elegant yet powerful that statement is.

Thanks for taking the time to read this post. Please let us know if Swimming Duck can be of any help to you and your firm.

Swimming Duck is led by Gordon Law, a highly experienced marketing and media professional. While Gordon has been fortunate to work on a number of large, national brands in his 30+ year career, he most enjoys helping small and mid-sized businesses achieve success.

A graduate of Oklahoma State University, Gordon finds the time to serve as an adjunct instructor at SMU, on the Advisory Council and Dads Club at St. Rita Catholic School, and as a volunteer at Austin Street Shelter. Gordon also tries to be a great husband and father and an average golfer; most will say he's doing OK on the family front, but the golf game still needs a lot of work.

Posted Fri, Jun 26, 2015 by Gordon Law in News