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The Power Of Vision To Transform Your Organization

Jamey Lutz, SVP, Performance Excellence, Atlantic Capital Bank

Well known author and political activist Helen Keller once noted that “the most pathetic person in the world is someone who has sight, but has no vision.” Stricken by serious illness at age 2 that left her both deaf and blind, Keller’s dogged perseverance over seemingly insurmountable odds is a testament to her personal vision.

Keller’s quote leads me to consider contemporary visionaries that have radically transformed our realities regarding what is possible. But for every Steve Jobs and Elon Musk there are countless other brilliant individuals whose dreams will never see the light of day due to ineffectiveness at transferring what’s currently in their heads, to the hearts and minds of their respective teams. Research conducted by Achievers, an industry leading provider of employee recognition and engagement solutions, revealed that only 40 percent of employees knew the vision their company is striving to reach.

 Keep your vision statement concise so that it can be easily remembered and repeated. And most importantly, make sure the vision inspires your team to pursue excellence and provides a strategic roadmap for short and long-term decision making at all levels of the business 

A well written vision statement is an essential tool for any organisation committed to pursuing excellence. It should be aspiring in nature, clearly define where you are collectively going, and highlight what you want your organisation to achieve over time. Keep your vision statement concise so that it can be easily remembered and repeated. And most importantly, make sure the vision inspires your team to pursue excellence and provides a strategic roadmap for short and long-term decision making at all levels of the business.

Here are several examples of great vision statements from some of the planet’s most successful organisations:

Microsoft: Empower people through great software any time, any place, and on any device.

Disney: To make people happy.

Amazon: To be the earth’s most customer-centric company.

Ritz-Carlton: To inspire life’s most meaningful journeys.

Of course, cleverly crafted vision statements are commonplace today. You can find beautifully framed facsimiles hung in boardrooms and hallways across the corporate landscape. However, as mentioned previously, only 3 in 5 employees are able to articulate the vision reputedly endorsed by their company. If your people don’t know the vision, chances are they won’t embrace the vision, nor modify their existing behaviors to align with it. Exemplary organisations focus on proactively cascading the vision throughout the enterprise, never assuming the masses will just somehow ‘’get it” along the way. Read on to learn strategies that will motivate your employees to engage around your desired future state.

1. Communicate your vision and core values everyday.

I love Zig Ziglar’s quote about the importance of repeating what’s important: “Repetition is the mother of learning and the father of action, which makes it the architect of accomplishment.” If you want your people to embrace the significant stuff, make sure it gets reinforced... day after day after day. Many culture-based organisations like Enterprise Rent-A-Car and Zappos conduct daily10-15 minute huddle meetings that include a focused segment around enlivening their core principles. Other companies are increasingly leveraging video and intranet capabilities to constantly reinforce key strategic messages.

2 Promote the vision through increased visibility.

Get your marketing department involved in creating a visually appealing design/ background for your vision statement. A local printer can produce poster-sized images at a minimal cost that can be easily posted in all employee common areas. Consider developing and distributing laminated, wallet-sized fold out cards with your company vision, mission, and service values highlighted on individual panels. At Ritz-Carlton, employees are required to have a“CredoCard” on their person at all times.

3. Conduct regularly scheduled vision audits.

Enlist your leadership team to conduct surprise audits where employees are randomly asked to recite the vision statement as well as articulate what the vision means to them on a personal level. Be sure to incorporate some sort of meaningful acknowledgement for individuals that successfully “pass the test.” Hand-written notes from an executive team member, as well as gift cards for coffee or bagels, are simple yet inexpensive options.

4. Leverage the influence of storytelling.

One of the most powerful approaches to ensure your vision is continuously cascaded across all enterprise levels is to build a virtual repository of stories and best practices that exemplify your vision in action. For example, Atlanta based Chick-Fil-A recently introduced The Chicken Wire, a new content section on its website that includes feature stories highlighting employee contributions to the company vision and core values. Other companies have instituted inspiring peer recognition programs where employees are encouraged to share stories of fellow co- workers that championed the organizational vision in some meaningful way. The more your team observes desired behaviours being regularly reinforced, the higher the probability they will readily align themselves with your long-term strategy.

Does your vision statement inspire others to greatness? Is it hardwired into the DNA of your people? If not, take time today to further refine your vision, and collaborate with your team on an action plan to bring it to life. You will be glad you did.

“If you are working on something exciting that you really care about, you don’t have to be pushed. The vision pulls you.”–Steve Jobs

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