July 23, 2006

“Vision” is perhaps the most abused and beaten word in corporate world. Every organization has a grand vision and the irony is that hardly anyone in the organization understands what the vision is. Except a few exceptional cases, the vision of an organization is more like a designer necklace meant for display and the “wow” effect rather than for internalization. And this is the problem.

The root cause of this problem is lack of continuous communication. Things like vision are such that initial euphoria dies down soon if a system is not in place to reinforce it continuously. Sooner rather than later, employees forget all about vision and get back to their routine of worrying about their deadlines and meetings. Majority of employees, particularly at the lower and middle level, blissfully become unaware of their organization’s vision, the very thing that is supposed to guide their day to day conduct. So every desk prominently displays the organization’s vision that no body cares to read, understand, or emulate. The result is the dilution of the very purpose of the having a vision i.e. having a shared purpose and idea of focusing on the future.

At the same time, in the same corporate world, there are leaders who understand the value and importance of vision and take upon themselves to ensure that each and every employees of their organization understands, internalizes, and practices the vision of the organization. And they do not delegate this responsibility of communicating the vision to all employees. They take this responsibility of communicating the vision upon them and ensure that the entire organization is crystal clear on what the vision of the organization is and what role he has to play to realize that vision. They personally ensure that there is no scope of ambiguity on this front.

Legendary Jack Welch is said to have personally driven the communication of his vision to such an extent that had he called his managers at 3 o’clock in morning and asked them what the vision of GE was, they would have blurted the vision of GE verbatim in half sleep. That’s called communicating the vision so that everyone in the organization virtually eats, drinks, breaths, sleeps, and lives on vision.

What about your organization’s vision? Just randomly ask some of your employees to get an honest answer.

3 comments

  1. Manish // July 23, 2006 at 10:41 PM  

    In the corporate world everything is seen in retrospect therefore employees think more about their immediate targets rather than the vision.

    We can talk about Jack Welch asking his employees about vision, but if we talk to grass root workers like some of our batchmates, their vision would be to never be in the last 10% of performers in GE. Otherwise they will not survive in the company to see the "vision", when the company approaches it.

    I also feel the company's vision would mean little to an employee, unless it in someway aligns to the employee's personal goals.

    And as The Great Manu Grover once said vision should not be too halo like "I want world peace" without a plan of action, in order to be achieved.

  2. Mayank Krishna // July 24, 2006 at 11:51 PM  

    Exactly. But proper communication of Vision will ensure that the employees do only those things that ensure that they are not found dead in the bottom 10% (read unacceptable performance vis-a-vis the Vision).

    And you rightly said that for a vision to be meaningful and worthy it must be aligned to the personal goals of the employees. And a leader can do that only through effective communication as well as story telling. In business and in life, perception is reality. So make sure your employees perceive your vision as you want them to perceive it.

  3. Ajit Chouhan // July 26, 2006 at 7:17 PM  

    It's all about communication and leadership's ability in translating those vision and mission statements in action.

    Nothing speaks louder than action.