Harvard and IMD-trained Ric Abadesco is senior consultant of Corporate Achievers Institute (Coach). He was formerly SVP of San Miguel Corporation and Organizational Effectiveness and Total Quality Manager of Exxon Chemical (USA). He shares his insights about the importance of creating a company vision.
Q1 : Why should a company create a vision?
A: A company needs a vision: 1) for broad directional guidance; 2) to challenge the status quo and break through existing paradigms and assumptions; 3) to energize and mobilize the organization.
Q2: Who should create the vision?
A: Leaders, by definition, are expected to steer the organization, institute change and inspire people. They should initiate the creation of an inspiring vision and enlist the entire organization in the co-creation of a vision.
Q3: What traits should they have?
A: Visionary leaders should be organization developers, focusing on building an organization and going beyond product and market leadership. They should have a long term and helicopter view of the organization; be idealistic but also pragmatic. They should go beyond the profit perspective but have a clear view of their main purpose and contribution to society. Visionary leaders have a deep compulsive drive for progress and continuous improvement. They invest heavily in professional development and innovation. They are inspiring and people oriented. They are change agents.
Q4: What makes a good vision?
A: A vision should be unconventional in that it should trigger emotions such as excitement, optimism and empowerment and should be connected to a noble cause, beyond profits. This connection sparks emotions such as pride, belong, passion and trust.
Q5: Are companies with vision more successful than others?
A: In a study of 18 companies which have been successful for more than 50 years as market leaders, outperforming competitors by 15x and the stock market by 200 percent (Built to Last: Successful Habits of Visionary Companies), Professor Collins and Porras cites their distinctive characteristics as follow:
– They concentrate on building an organization (integrating processes with engaged and committed people) rather than just hitting the market with a great product.
– They are pragmatic (profit oriented) but also hold and pursue high ideals.
Q6: Under what circumstances should a company change its vision?
A: When achievement of its vision is in sight or when it changes its business model.
Q7: Do most companies have vision before the start of the operations or do they formulate during operations already?
A: It can be done during the start of operations based on the motivations and core values of its founders and early on in operations when people and operations begin to gel. A vision should be discovered and not just crafted like a marketing slogan. It has to be connected to deeply held values of the organization and its leaders and people. The founders can initiate drafting a vision statement but should enlist the rest of the organization to co-create and own a vision.
Q8: Is vision same as purpose?
A: A vision is a dreamed destination, while purpose is in underlying beliefs and reason for its existence. They should be closely inter-related. Vision is about aspirations while purpose addresses the underlying beliefs and reasons for its unique contribution to its stakeholders and the community at large.
Q9: After a vision, what’s next?
A: The well know planning process model OGSM (Objectives, Goals, Strategies, Measures) provides guidance in terms of next steps. Objectives are longer term outcomes linked to vision and purpose; goals are the SMART translation (specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and time-bound) of objectives, strategies are areas of focus and priorities with a shorter time frame; and measures are numerical indicators of achievement of strategies. This framework provides a map of next steps after the formulation of a vision.