Clarifying your vision

In discussions with other planners this week, while attending a strategic planning seminar, multiple ideas of what a vision statement should look like emerged. Traditionally, these are broad, aspirational images of the future that an organization is aiming to achieve. However, the longer I plan the more it becomes apparent that the right solution almost never comes in the cookie cutter shape. The strategic framework should be what the business needs it to be. Here’s an alternate perspective on vision statements.

Strategies are about change and visions are about change. Most companies create vision statements that provide some future context, but in most cases are never to be fully realized. What if your vision statement was clearer? What if we specified what we were going to accomplish and by what date? Does this make it an objective, thrust or an intent? I don’t think so.

How many people in your company know what the vision statement is? How consistently within your company is this understood even within the executive team? Ok, now to what extent is this statement really used at all to provide context to planning? I’m not arguing that some vision statements don’t work well in the current form, but consider what your vision statement does for your business.

Consider which of the following 2 options would be more useful for your business:

1) To be the biggest _______ provider in our province / state

2) To increase sales to 200 million by the year 2010 through the acquisition of smaller competing businesses while maintaining an efficiency ratio of 55%.

Ok, so it’s early and neither of these visions are amazing… but think about the context that this provides to the folks that work at these companies. Which would you prefer?

How does corporate strategy relate to performance management?

I recently received a question from one of my clients that I thought I’d post up.

How does corporate strategy relate to the rewards and motivation systems of your organization?

The balanced scorecard is the strategy management system of the organization. In other words:

1) where is the company going (at a macro level) and how are we going to get there
2) measurement of that progress
3) course correction in the strategic direction as required

The rewards and recognition / performance planning system is designed to motivate the people resources of the company to support the plan. The system you are using is only effective if it is capable in aligning these resources to the corporate direction. This is why a critical component of building the plan is ensuring that all of the employees see, understand and support the corporate direction. Without this understanding, they will be unable to support or recognize the opportunities to support the achievement of the long-term direction and the implementation will fail.

Organizational strategy is the direction.
Performance management mobilizes your resources to implement the strategy.

They both have to be present and connected for this to work.