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February, 2010

How Well is Your Vision Understood?

Successful companies are known for the clarity of their vision in guiding the organization toward a long term goal and how well it is understood and accepted throughout the company. Is this true of your organization? What stands in the way of a successful vision?

Where the strategic plan might be referred to as the outline or wire diagram, the vision is the solid model that ties strategies together into a complete picture. The leadership is responsible for framing the vision and the strategies that support it. A successful vision is the sum of not only detail strategic accomplishments but also passion and enthusiasm of employees for the vision.

Test the effectiveness of your company vision by measuring how well the people in your organization can verbalize the vision and how what they do supports it. The vision needs to be shared and adopted across the organization and not just appear on a plaque on the boardroom wall.

Leaders need to get the word out from the executive level down to line managers and then to first level employees. This can be accomplished using a variety of methods such as:

  • Giving life to the vision in a story that others can repeat.
  • Leaders who can effectively communicate a compelling vision in a clear, brief way ("elevator speech"), when they interact with people informally.
  • Use of multiple media channels - slogans, video, handouts - so that people get the vision,
  • Engaging others in one-on-one conversations using personal connections to transmit information and, more importantly, get feedback and clear up misunderstandings.
  • Involve customers, partners and vendors in the messaging path.
  • Back up your vision with actions and behavior that reinforce the vision. People seeing one thing and hearing another can destroy your credibility and compromise the vision.

Many struggle with the vision process and feel that it comes down to just mission. However, a small company that I worked with a few years ago made the transition from just having a mission to also having a defining vision for direction of the company. Consequently they were able to tell a much more compelling story to customers that were looking at why they should have a long-term strategic relationship with them. The new vision was instrumental in establishing business relationships with much larger companies than had been possible in the past.

Test your vision and validate that your organization is behind it. Make sure that your talk is consistent with your walk.

Mike Brice
Phone: (206)226-1617

Feature Article
Personal Guarantees and Your Business

Operating and growing a business often requires injections of cash to provide the working capital for expansion in staff, equipment, and market promotion campaign or to just get through a tight business climate and preserve essential resources. Depending upon your source for credit you may be asked to make a personal guarantee. Despite your confidence and enthusiasm in the ability of the business to bear the repayment of the loan and associated debt service consider the following 5 tips (see 5 Steps: A Personal Guarantee and Your Business (and Future ) to protect your self and your business.

  1. Know the risks. Understand what you will risk in the personal guarantee.

  2. For business partners, a new meaning to "one for all." Make sure that all partners share the same liability if the debt cannot be repaid.

  3. Beware the "clause" & effect. Know what the impact of changes or "flexible" alternatives to loan elements as such as determining interest rate over the term of the loan can have to you.

  4. Don't gloss over the fine print. Understand what the fine print says. Use a lawyer to interpret the legalize. You do not want a surprise if things go bad.

  5. You can't run. You can't hide. So don't! Bankers do not like surprises. Don't let them learn of a problem from someone else other than you. Don't let your bravado hide the true condition of your business. Be transparent on what you are doing if a problem situation and build their confidence in you.

Borrow wisely and take the time to exhaustively determine what range of liabilities you are obligated to in your loan agreement.

Management Resources
Team Building: It might sounds crazy to talk about worker loyalty at a time when big companies routinely show longtime employees the door. But loyalty isn’t dead. Instead, it has shifted, with few people nowadays feeling loyal to the company overall or even the people running the business.
7 Ways to Build a Loyal Team

Organization Development: Gaining a decided advantage over the competition starts with attracting the right talent to the organization. Companies must also invest in executive talent development, assessment, and retention because they're just as critical to business performance. The market leaders in any industry recognize that attracting and developing the best executive talent is a continual, institutional priority, no matter what the economic environment.
How Companies Rebuild Competitive Advantage

Business Process: Your business model has to specify not just how your company intends to make money but also why a customer would want to give it any.
A New Framework for Business Models

Governance: Companies often rely exclusively on their own risk management processes, which they believe are bulletproof but may in fact be riddled with holes, inconsistencies and contradictions. By remaining polite and silent, boards can do more than contribute to monetary losses; they may unwittingly cause reputational risk, often with long-lasting and severe consequences.
The Boardroom Vacuum

Product Development: Businesses with the best product-development track records do three things better than their less-successful peers: They create a clear sense of project goals early on, they nurture a strong project culture in their workplace and they maintain close contact with customers throughout a project's duration.
The Path To Successful New Products

Family Businesses: The keys to long-term success are professional management and keeping the family committed to and capable of carrying on as the owner.
The Five Attributes Of Enduring Family Businesses

Consumer Behavior: Companies waiting for a return to normality following the recession may be disappointed. Their customers have tried cheaper products--and actually like them.
How The Recession Has Changed U.S. Consumer Behavior
Economy: United Parcel Service is the largest package delivery service in the world. Every day, UPS ships more than 15.5 million packages worldwide aboard 107,000 vehicles and 570 planes. BNET Editor-in-chief Eric Schurenberg talks to UPS CEO Scott Davis about holiday season shipments, the economic recovery, and having one of the lowest turnover rates in the industry.
UPS CEO Says Economic Recovery Is on Its Way (5:24min)
Project Management: This book is designed to help project managers take charge of any project and its individual responsibilities, like defining the scope of a project, scheduling and budgeting, identifying and assigning tasks.
The Little Black Book of Project Management by Michael

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