by Lorraine Ball
It is not enough to have a general idea of an end result. Unless you are going to do all the work, you must have a clear company vision defining your purpose and goals to others. Your employees, business associates, and family members have to see your vision if they are going to help you achieve your end result.
A great example of vision and passion is the story of Walt Disney as he began construction on what would eventually become Disneyland. Working with the construction crews he mapped out every detail of the park. He envisioned a magical place and it was important to him that everyone entering the park would feel that magic from their first step.
He insisted Cinderella’s castle be built first. Located in the center of the park it was impractical and expensive to build the castle first, but Disney insisted. Why? To him the castle was not just the center of the park, it was the center of the idea. It represented the magic of the park. He was convinced that once it was built others would see the park the way he did. And he was right.
So how do you communicate your vision if you don’t have something as specific as a castle in the center of your business?
Clarify your company vision for yourself.
This is not a busy work activity, but a serious commitment to a future path. To find that vision answer a few simple questions.
1. What will your company look like in 5, 10 or 20 years? How many employees, what types of customer, and what services will you offer?
2. What do you want to be known for? When people talk about you and your business what’s the first thing most people will say?
As you answer those questions, a picture of the company will emerge. The more specific you are, the clearer the picture becomes. Now you are ready to start sharing your company vision with others.
Sharing your vision
Live the vision. You need to commit to this vision of your future completely. Everyone around you must feel the passion and energy you have for this outcome. If you aren’t excited they won’t be.
Tell a story. People don’t see facts and figures. They won’t visualize a spreadsheet. You need to bring others into your vision with the story of the business you hope to be, the people you will help, and the changes your company will make in the market place and the lives of the people you touch. The story is what will give life to a vision by capturing hearts and minds. It also makes it easier for your team to communicate the vision to others.
Practice your elevator speech. You won’t always have time to tell your whole story, so think about the most relevant information. This becomes your elevator speech, a clear brief way to summarize your vision. It needs to be short enough to share in a typical elevator ride, a walk to the parking garage, or waiting in line at the coffee shop.
Share, share, and share again. Use written words, podcasts, and video to share your vision, but don’t forget more tangible items like coffee mugs, t-shirts, and pens to put your ideas in front of your team time and time again. Share your ideas regularly in group meetings and in one-on-one conversations with team members. Use every conversation as an opportunity to transmit information, receive feedback, build support, and create energy around the vision.
Identify other storytellers. As you build out your vision, you will need to reach more and more people and you can’t be everywhere. Identify key players, people in your organization, stakeholders, or supporters who are great communicators who can tell your story as well, or better than you do. Political campaigns call these people surrogates. They are influential, respected, and knowledgeable. They may even have their own constituency they can motivate to buy into the vision.
Celebrate as your company vision becomes a reality.
Eighteen years ago I envisioned a company built on three values: Creativity, collaboration, and positive energy. While I couldn’t envision all the twists and turns there would be along the way, the company is still pretty close to that original vision. Just walk into our castle, the little white house with the blue shutters, and you will find creative, positive people who work well together and with our clients. That was my vision, what’s yours?
Need help defining and communicating your vision? Give us a call.
by Lorraine Ball