September 21, 2010
Liz published this at 8:45 am
10-POINT PLAN: 1.2 Articulate the Vision
Why Have a Vision?
Last week, I wrote Why You Absolutely Must Share Your Vision Early and Often. Now, it’s about the how-to.
Imagine three corporations that build and sell computers for small business and entrepreneurs. Each corporation defines its business in a different way.
Brand A says: Our company is in the business of making products for consumers who need them. We do the work they can’t do and offer it at a fair price.
Brand B says: We’ve are the leader in quality, creative solutions to the complex technology problems that entrepreneurs and small business owners face today. We make it our business to know their problems and to find a way to solve them. We deliver on our promises and we’re committed to staying the best in the industry.
Brand C says: We are a network of deep and strategic partnerships with employees, vendors, partners, and small businesses leaders who work together to build products and work environments that inspire and generate creativity, competence, performance, and trust and to create jobs and solutions that build the economy now and for future generations.
Brand C is the description that connects the company to every person on the planet.
How Does Vision Attract Community?
The vision is more than the mission. It’s the destination drawn clearly so that every member of the new community can see it, understand it, speak about it with passion, and believe that it will happen. The vision is not a product devised and made by a crowd or a committee. It’s a leadership decision — the original strategy expanded with thought and design to elevate it to a higher calling.
The vision is the cause that attracts and unites the people of the community. It why they invest tireless hours and best efforts — because they are building …
- something that makes an important difference;
- something that no other company is building;
- something that needs every individual’s unique contribution
- something that no one individual could build alone.
The vision isn’t a dream. It’s a work in progress … a group aspiration in the true sense of it’s definition, breathing toward. The vision gives the community a why for why they are investing the time of their lives each day into this work. The vision is more than economic, more than profession, it is a commitment to accomplish something meaningful in the world.
7 Steps to Communicating a Vision that Grabs Folks by the Soul
If you’re looking to build a thriving business, start with a long-term, loyal internal community of employees. They will build and protect a healthy innovative culture, promote the values of the business, stay with the company, develop experise with coworkers, and live to serve customers. What better way to build a brand than to agree upon the values that you stand for and create an environment that nurtures brand ambassadors?
It takes the right vision to attract the right people to that kind of community culture. When we meet the best people, we have to tell them about that vision, or how will they see it? Here are 7 steps to articulating a clear vision.
- Think contribution. Think partnerships. Re-imagine your team or your business at this highest, most useful place in the world — financially, professionally, and philosophically. Talk through what you see with people you trust until you have a image, a vision, of what that business offers to employees, partners, vendors, and customers.
We’re inviting the highest quality people who have a stake in teaching and learning technology to join together in building products, services, and opportunities that show other people how business can work better for customers.
- Think ideal membership. Make the vision irresistible: smart, feelingful, and life-changing on a world-scale.
We’re only interested in the best minds, best designs, and the best problem solvers with the highest values. We’re going to align our goals and build stable, successful, ethical business models that freely give support to fledgling business in depressed areas to create an economy that helps us all grow.
- Think contributions and returns. Find the words to describe it simply in ways that others can see the value of what you’re going for.
We’re building the business that listens, learns, contributes, and invests in the people who help it thrive — it will be the business that people want to work with and for — the sort where every person makes a difference.
- Think recruitment. Be able to speak to the benefits of being a part.
One benefit is that under-achievers and those who will sacrifice anything to raise the bottom line won’t want to work here.
- Think champions and heroes. Invite the people who see the vision to be involved in highly visible ways. Talk about what they’re doing encourage them to talk too.
- Think honest communication. Talk publicly to everyone in as many ways as you can — live your message.
I’ll be listening to the folks who have experience where I don’t. I’ll be looking to learn from you how to do this better. That includes everyone I know.
- Think evangelism and growth. Invite people to pass on the vision and the invitation.
Who else belongs here? Tell us.
The communications team has started a newletter for partners and vendors working with inner city high school enterpreneurs. Let us know if you want to volunteer.
It’s not the how or what of work that builds community. It’s the why. The underlying vision that unites us toward building something that we can’t build alone. A community needs leadership to set and invest that vision and so that they can feel smart, safe, and powerful in investing too.
Once the community sees the vision and realizes that leadership commitment. People who share those values will pick up the message, the tools, and the passion to contribute to the cause. The culture will grow from their actions.
Humans are wired to be deeply inspired by causes greater than ourselves. To inspire a community to invest its soul, we have to show them why we’re willing to invest our own.
Have you really communicated your vision? Are there ways you might make it clearer to the people who can help it thrive?
To follow the entire series: Liz Straussâ€™ Inside-Out Thinking to Building a Solid Business, see the Successful Series Page.
–ME “Liz” Strauss
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