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Dipple column: Creating the vision

Jack Welch, former CEO of General Electric, said, “Good business leaders create a vision, articulate the vision, passionately own the vision and relentlessly drive it to completion.”
Clear visions have helped shape and propel impressive companies. For example, Fred Smith, founder of Federal Express, had a vision that packages could be delivered around the United States by the next morning. Disney wanted to make families smile. Domino’s wanted you to have hot, delicious pizza delivered to your door in 30 minutes or less or it was free. Coca-Cola wanted to have its refreshing beverages within the reach of every person in the world. Microsoft wanted to create beneficial software that would compel people to have a computer on every desk at work, home and school.
Jonathan Swift said, “Vision is the art of seeing things invisible.”
Don’t sell vision creation short. You must learn to understand, value and appreciate the essential role of an exciting vision for a healthy and growing business. Start thinking and planning more.
Focus on one of the most important tasks you can do and create an exciting direction for your business. Effective visions also help keep leaders motivated and challenged.
But remember your employees must buy into you as a leader before they buy into your vision. They must believe and trust in you to embrace your vision. You may need to do some repair work to establish yourself as a competent leader before you start selling your vision. You will need to connect with their hearts before connecting with their heads.
To create a new vision or sharpen an existing one, allow yourself a month. See yourself as the Chief Listening Officer during this phase. You can’t build a vision or business on your own, so seek the input of others now. Include your employees, customers, suppliers, distributors and business advisers in the process. Spend a week or two gathering input from these stakeholders about your company’s direction, strengths, weaknesses, threats and opportunities. If they don’t participate, they will not want to be in on the vision implementation phase. Also, study your industry trends and your current and emerging competitors.
After listening to others, be certain to listen to your own gut. While others’ input is critical, know that the buck stops with you. You are ultimately responsible for the vision of your business. Your vision ultimately becomes your company’s direction.
So get away from the daily interruptions and go into your CEO Cave. This could be your home office, a coffee shop, a park, library or beach. Spend two to three days forming a picture of what you want the business to look like in one year, three years and five years. See things the way they can be and dream big. A bold, daring vision, even if only partially achieved, yields greater rewards than a small, wimpy vision fully achieved.
Remember, there are no rules while you create a desired future state. But don’t deal in pure fantasy. There is a difference between a vision and a delusion. Stay grounded so you will see things the way they are now and the way they can be.
Give yourself and your employees something to be proud of. Find a voice to express the common dreams, emotions, potential and needs of your team. Let your vision inspire others.
Make the vision something that captures the imagination. Keep in mind, employees want purpose and passion to lift them and propel them. Find a larger purpose for your company than merely making money. A purely financial focus will not sustain the troops over the long term. Make coming to work a meaningful and fulfilling event for your employees. People want to work in a challenging and rewarding environment. They want to learn, grow and reach their potential ó the full expression of their talent.
If you’re having trouble thinking big, ask yourself bigger questions:
– Why does our enterprise exist?
– If our business were shut down, what would be missing in this world?
– What is our crusade? What could be our crusade?
– How do we engage the hearts, minds and souls of our employees?
– How can we make our company great, meaningful and different?
– How can we change our industry, community and even the world?
– How can we measurably improve the lives of customers?
– How can we make our employees and their families’ lives better and more fulfilling?
– What higher calling or spiritual dimension can we embrace?
After listening to others for two weeks and thinking deeply yourself for two weeks, a vision for your company should be coming into focus. But this vision will go nowhere unless you take action.
Contact Mark S. Dipple at m.dipple@thegrowthcoach. com.

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