Saturday, April 17, 2010

Some crazy thoughts on visions and values

Picture a triangle. At the top of the triangle is the vision. The peak of the represents the pinnacle. The place to be the ultimate goal. A corporate vision is intended to inspire that sense of desire to belong. Having developed many "visions" for organizations, I can tell you that there is a flaw in the making. 

A corporate vision is seen as a necessary part of the model. The Board of Directors is usually charged with the vision. However, many people actually dislike this process. They see it as wordsmithing. Time wasting. When are we going to get to the real stuff is what they want to know.

But the vision is actually the most important conversation to be had, and it should be created with heart and soul. A vision should have a pulse and embody a desire that is bigger than you and me. It spur us on regardless of the barriers. It should be important enough that people will want to be a part of it.

We create visions in companies to unite the masses under a common quest. That's true. But people have this little thing called "free will." They can chose to believe and act on whatever they chose. So, for the highly engaged, it may be a vision that drives their ambition, but is it the vision of the company. Doubtful.

That's where the values come in, which is how we live the vision.  Values are the test of how we treat each other, especially in difficult times.  I like to think of values as a moving train.  When it is derailed, people notice.  In fact, people will hold their leaders to living the values before they will hold them to a plan.  Values represent the human side of the business equation.  Without values, the vision is empty.  

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