Arlington VA July 30, 2016
In a recent article titled "Be an Outstanding leader", I discussed how vision is so imp0rtant to success. In fact, without a clear and understandable vision, it is nearly impossible to craft success because you do not know where you want to be at some future time.
Think of a vision as a story about yourself; your goals, aspirations, and desires to satisfy customers. As Stan Toler says, in his excellent book "Outstanding Leadership" (Harvest House Press, 2016), "The core principle of a developing vision plan is its impact on people's needs. Organizations built solely on steel and plastic, and a rigid corporate infrastructure will slowly drift into the sunset unless they have a mindset of 'customer first', and 'opinion matters'."
The basis of a vision then is your image of how you intend to satisfy customers and clients. Your 'story' is about you, your organization, what they do, how they do it, and how well they satisfy their customers or clients. A good story speaks to the convictions and motivations which led to the creation of the organization, how the leaders perceive that their skills and capabilities are what the customer wants and needs, and why they should come to you for those capabilities rather than someone else.
Leadership is the crux of the effort. The authentic, effective leader knows the organization well; perhaps better than others. He understands what it took to get to the current state, how well that state can be supported and improved, what qualities the organization possesses which are desired by customers, and can develop l;ans to get and keep customers, with their acceptance and buy-in.
A successful business operation is not about the business itself. It is not about the infrastructure, the technology, or even the the employees per se. it is about how all of these constituent parts of the organization contribution to satisfying the needs of the customers, and even those who share the convictions of the customers.
Let me give you a short example here. Too many years ago, as i was growing up in Boston, most families bought from the local department stores, especially Woolworth's and Sears Roebuck because of their reputation for helpful service, and clothing and other items which lasted a long time. Clothing especially lasted a very long time, and was often passed between children as they grew and even to other families in the neighborhood. The department stores befitted from not just the original sale, but from the goodwill generated by the continued use of their products, and then the shoppers who came to buy similar goods, based on their second-hand experiences. All of the department stores of the day concentrated on assuring customers of their quality, wearability, usability, and availability at a reasonable price for those goods.
The companies all developed their vision around customer service, quality, price, and availability. Using those elements of their vision, they developed their strategies and plans knowing that they could answer the four questions most recently posed by Toler:
Who are we?
What do we Do?
Where are we going?
How and when will we get there?
In the next parts of this series, we will look in more depth at some potential ways to answer these questions, aimed at success.