Having a Coroporate Vision -- Dream or Necessity?
by Joanne Leitschuh
Are you bored with your job? When you look around the office, do you see people going through the motions without a sense of purpose or mission? What is it that makes a job so fulfilling --- even for the long-term that it makes you want to jump out of bed on a rainy Monday morning in two years time?" Vision.
Cameron Healy had a vision. Healy founded Kettle Foods in Oregon America in 1978, selling roasted nut and trail mixes on Interstate 5. He had no working capital and possessed only a beaten up van. However, he saw a world in which baby boomers matured into a market that demanded quality lifestyles, and would be willing to pay up to £2.39 for a bag of crisps. By 1982, Healy had developed Kettle Chips, the only hand cooked potato crisps in the US, pioneering what is now a multimillion dollar segment of the market. A six-week motorcycle trip with his son around Europe to research the "natural food" market brought him to Britain in 1987. Together, with partner Tim Meyer, Healy began production in Norwich in 1988 in the corner of another crisp factory. Kettle outgrew its original facility and in 1998 moved to new premises. For the past few years, annual growth has been 30%, and exports to continental Europe are growing even faster. Today, the company's hope is that consumers look behind the brand and see that it's not some big corporation, but a small team who believe in what they do.1
Visions can be big like Healy's or small. As a manager, it is vital to have a vision and, more importantly, to share it with those you work with. You might have heard the saying, "Where there is no vision, the people perish." 2 This is especially true in the business world. Every company needs a united vision, goal or mission; otherwise, there will be no success or movement forward. So what do you do with your vision once you have it?
Currently, in our wholesale jewellery operation, we have a new upmarket product and feel we need to have "upmarket" sales training. Each member of our sales team wants to achieve bigger sales and become the best they can be. They know that it is important to have more than just targets to motivate them. They need to have the zest and determination that will bring about extra-ordinary performances beyond what they previously have experienced.
Now that they are inspired to become better salespeople, we feel that our whole operation needs to be "shaken up" a bit. Our corporate vision is creating an impact as we believe that all of the extra training time involved will be worthwhile. Our dreams CAN come true! Sometimes great visions can be impossible to achieve, but it is better to be bold as well as realistic! Remember Microsoft's mission, "A computer on every desk and in every home."
If an option or decision does not help the vision, it is best not to follow it. Now that we have decided to upgrade our sales procedures, other priorities will be put in their place. A vision should be solid and not be up for debate. This demonstrates determination and passion and provides a clear focus to help those who are having a difficult time being motivated.
We have a vision of what we want our company to look like in the future. Imagining what customers and competitors will be thinking about us in five years helps the vision come to life. A vision is a communications tool, not a strategic management quick-fix, so we have to make sure that our vision makes sound business sense. 3
The exciting aspect of having a corporate vision is that it can filter through many aspects of our personal lives. Our jobs demand at least 50 hours of the 168 hours we have each week. We also realize that how we spend the other 118 hours needs attention. We want to enjoy growth and fulfilment in all areas of our lives. Our Creator has put situations in our lives that we can or cannot change. It's up to us -- with careful thought and continuous hunger and determination -- to find out our own personal vision for our lives as a whole. Deep down it just doesn't seem right to go through life wandering and wasting the precious days that we have been given. I was inspired reading about Lance Armstrong, hero of the Tour de France, who obviously had a vision to win. He said that his secret was full commitment and hard work. He doesn't know his future but one thing remains certain for him: "No matter what my path, I will travel it with the sure knowledge that every day is precious and that every step matters." 4
1. Sheri Wynn, "Crisp Growth Without Paying for Ads", Management Today, May 2002.
2. The Bible, Proverbs 29:18
3. Octavious Black, "Route to the Top How to Create a Vision or a Mission", Management Today, May 2002.
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