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Indeed, vision means something to people at all levels in an organiza-
tion. All employees might not know the specifics of the company™s mar-
keting plans or financial outlook, but they do know its reputation. They
know how other players in the industry or local market perceive it. They
know when they work for a quality-driven organization, or one that™s
content to skim margins from second- or third-rate work.

If you build an environment that values quality, in which people can be
proud of their efforts, you™ll find better people more easily. And you™ll be
able to keep them once you™ve found them. But you can™t achieve quality
without explicitly saying you want to achieve it. It isn™t something people
infer from all companies. It isn™t something you can effect passively. You
have to set it up as a goal and pursue it continuously.

Something you™ll find as you do this: People”employees, vendors, cus-
tomers”want to believe in quality. Quality is rare enough that it has in-
trinsic value. People will work hard when they understand a vision that
seeks quality performance. That kind of vision empowers people to per-
form well.
12 Create Your Vision




GR E AT V I S ION

Sam Walton had a vision for Wal-Mart. He believed that giving me-
dian to low-end retail customers in smaller geographic markets
the widest possible choice of inexpensive goods would establish
his chain as the market leader among discount department stores.
His vision was this:

To offer all the fine customers in our territories all of their household
needs in a manner in which they continue to think of us fondly.

Ray Kroc™s vision for McDonald™s was that people could find fast,
tasty food consistently wherever they traveled. One of the goals of Mc-
Donald™s is that the food in all of its stores”all over the world”tastes
exactly the same. And that its customers have a clean pleasant place to
eat it. This is clear in reading the McDonald™s vision statement:

To be the world™s best quick service restaurants experience. McDon-
ald™s accomplishes this by providing each customer with outstand-
ing Quality, Service, Cleanliness and Value.

What is remarkable is that so many employees at all levels in both
these organizations still share the founder™s original vision.




Results come when people develop a shared vision of how they want
their organization to be perceived and are willing to work every day
to maintain that vision.


Making It Happen

As you approach the task of defining your vision, first, spend some time
talking with someone close to you about your company and your dreams
for it: Ask yourself why you started your company, what you wanted to
accomplish, the legacy you want to leave personally and professionally.

Your vision should have several elements: It must be long term, meaning-
ful in a human context, and appeal to a higher purpose. A vision state-
ment is not easy to write in a sentence or two, but writing it will make it
clear to you and meaningful to others.

What do good vision statements have in common? You feel you know the
company when you read them. They give the company a human feeling,
13
Moving from Vision to Action



a personality. They set out what the company values. They often refer to
quality of life issues.

Try several drafts by answering these questions:

• What do you see your company becoming in 5 to 10 years?

• What values are an essential part of who you are and what you
want your company to be?

• What innovations will your customers be looking for if they
knew what was possible?



Reality Check

Circulate your vision statement drafts and edit and rewrite them until
you feel good about them. Remember, the goal is for everyone in your
company to believe in your vision; therefore, be sure to get the opinions
of different people throughout the organization. Next, make sure it an-
swers these questions:

• Who are you as a company?

• Where do you want to make your mark?

• How high do you want to shoot?

• What do you believe in?

• Does what you have written embody the spirit of where you want
your company to head?

• Can you live with this vision? Are you willing to (or more appro-
priately, do you automatically) act in accordance with what you
have written your vision to be?

If you find your new vision statement doesn™t jive with the above ques-
tions, then don™t be afraid to start anew. Defining your vision is an essen-
tial responsibility, and you might not get it right on the first few tries.



CRAFTING A MISSION STATEMENT

As you develop your overarching vision, you can use this process of self-
exploration to determine your mission statement as well. These are two
14 Create Your Vision



different entities”what the vision statement is to strategy, the mission
statement is to tactics. It identifies the critical processes that impact im-
plementation of vision. The vision statement will endure much longer
than the mission statement. The vision statement will change only if the
core purpose of the business changes. The mission statement may
change as competition or technology changes.

You should have at least one mission statement for your company”
and you may develop related ones for each distinct department or divi-
sion. You may also want to develop temporary mission statements to
communicate a current focus.

A good mission statement gets people to act in agreement with the com-
pany™s broader goals. It reminds them how to behave every day, regard-
less of what temporary forces work against them, so that they can help
realize the company™s vision.

The mission of a company is not dreamy, like a vision. It is based in today
and reality. It defines specifically your product and your market”who
you will sell to and what you will sell.

A complete mission statement clearly and fully describes which fac-
tors”and, if necessary, which resources”are most critical to supporting
the business strategy. The three factors that most managers consider in
terms of their mission are:

1. Quality and reliability must be defined in terms of the customer
(externally) and projected back (internally) to determine their
impact on product development and operations. Internal quality
benchmarks, as useful as they can be in monitoring operations,
don™t play as vital a role in developing a mission statement as do
customer needs and wants. You have to consider the level and
meaning of quality and reliability appropriate to the desired
competitive position in the marketplace.

2. Value can mean lowest manufacturing cost, lowest selling price,
or best quality for the money when other factors are considered.
The first two definitions are fairly objective. Even though many
management gurus stress so-called “best value,” that definition
tends to be so vague that it™s useless.

3. Service includes more than just the friendliness of the greeting
a customer hears when your receptionist picks up the phone.
It translates into the degree to which you can devote company
15
Moving from Vision to Action



resources to the needs of a specific customer”without ignoring
all others. As we™ll consider later, this has much to do with op-
erations. Service entails manufacturing flexibility and versatil-
ity, the ability to produce a large variety of products of various
volumes to supply a diverse market”and to do so quickly.

No organization can succeed by concentrating on any one of these factors
to the exclusion of the other two. Your challenge is to balance the re-
sources you apply to each in proportion to priorities based on current sit-
uations and future positions.

Management should agree on functional mission statements that iden-
tify the operating resources that are critical to support the business strat-
egy. For example, Domino™s Pizza made a dramatic change in emphasis
when it changed its mission statement. Domino™s was known in the
pizza delivery business for its 30-minute delivery guarantee. It discon-
tinued its 30-minute guarantee in 1993 and replaced it with this simple
statement:

Exceptional people on a mission to be the best pizza delivery company in
the world.

In those few words, Domino™s shifted its corporate emphasis from speed
to quality.

While a mission statement can be as simple as defining the product and
the market, some companies feel that the way they treat employees and
customers is just as important in defining who they are as is the product
and market. For example, since the late 1980s, the big players in the U.S.
automobile industry have focused mission statements on reducing new
product realization (the time passing from concept to the cars in the
showroom) from 48 months to the 12 months that carmakers like Honda
can boast. Ford, General Motors, and Chrysler have all raised their qual-
ity standards to match their foreign competitors, but they suffer in com-
parison because they take so long to respond to market demands.

General Motors decided to create a new paradigm with Saturn. Its mis-
sion statement is intended to benefit not just customers but the whole or-
ganization of which it is a part:

[Our goal is to] market vehicles developed and manufactured in the
United States that are world leaders in quality, cost, and customer
satisfaction through the integration of people, technology, and business
16 Create Your Vision



system and to transfer knowledge, technology, and experience through-
out General Motors.

As Saturn™s many devoted customers can attest, this is a different kind of
company within the GM conglomerate, and its mission statement sets
the tone with its customer-oriented practices.



Making It Happen

The discussion that can lead to preparing this portion of the mission state-
ment may be the most important part of creating it. To be able to clearly
define your market may be a more difficult task than you would think.

Look at your own promotional catalogs to see if all of your products have
a similar theme that you can define. Like Federal Express, is your pri-
mary product speed? Like Nordstrom, is your primary product quality in
terms of service? Or like Apple computer, is your primary product qual-
ity in terms of ease of installation and use? Like Wal-Mart, is your pri-
mary product wide selection?

Get a list of your customers and look for their similarities. Is your mar-
ket who you thought they would be? Can everyone who buys from you
be classified as a particular group? Or like FedEx, is your market almost
everyone?

Take these preliminary ideas to your employees and see if they agree.
Have meetings just to discuss these items. Then test them in the outside
world. Draft your mission statement from these questions:


• What do you sell?

• To whom do you sell it?

• What does your company do better or want to do better than any-
one else?

• How does your company rank the importance of quality, value,
and service?

• How do you define each of these based on customer needs and
expectations?

• How will you achieve your vision?
17
Moving from Vision to Action



Reality Check

As with the vision statement, circulate your drafts and edit and rewrite
them until you feel good about them. Then ask yourself and others these
questions:

• Does your mission statement capture what makes you unique as
a company?

• Would your customers and vendors recognize you in these state-
ments? Would they be pleasantly surprised because they could
really buy in to these directions?

• Are they directions your customers would agree with?

• Is your mission statement inspiring?

• Does this give everyone in your company direction for each day
when they walk in the door? Is there any ambiguity in what is
most important?

• If an employee faced a difficult dilemma at work, would thinking
of your mission statement lead them to make the right decision?



ANALYZING YOUR STRENGTHS, WEAKNESSES, OPPORTUNITIES,
AND THREATS

To begin to make certain that the vision and mission are attainable,
many companies participate in an exercise called a SWOT Analysis.
SWOT stands for Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats.
The system stresses a more complete perspective on what accounts for
success in a company. It was originally developed by the Massachusetts-
based Boston Consulting Group in the early 1970s.

The SWOT Analysis works well because it contrasts the internal and ex-
ternal factors that affect a company. It matches the strengths found in the
company™s internal environment with opportunities in the organiza-
tion™s external environment in a way that makes its core competencies
self-evident.

Scanning the internal environment includes an analysis of the com-
pany™s structure, its culture, and its resources. Here are just some of the
areas that should be considered in SWOT Analysis:
18 Create Your Vision



Strengths. Our strengths are our core competencies”those things we do
better than any of our competitors or that really tie together all the
products we offer in a unique way. What internal structures or expertise
do we have that are a special source of pride? This becomes the center for
determining what we will do in the future. We want to constantly build
on the things we already do particularly well.

Weaknesses. For every thing we visualize clearly or do well, there is
something we can™t see so clearly or do so well. Some of these weak-
nesses we can change”others we can™t. Where do we need to build
our company? What is holding us back or creating a bottleneck for ev-
eryone else? If we choose to spend money or other resources in one di-
rection, in what other directions might we be tolerating or creating
weaknesses?

Ask yourself whether the following things are strengths or weaknesses
for your company:

• Product quality.

• Quality of the management staff.

• Quality of technical staff.

• Brand name.

• Planning process.

• Quality of staff performance management system.

• Profitability.

• Availability of cash for growth.

• Quality of marketing and sales efforts.

• Compliance with legal requirements.

• Facilities.

• Operations.

• Staff morale.

The Opportunities/Threats portion of the SWOT looks at factors out-
side of your company, but which will have a profound affect on your ul-
timate success. Scanning the external environment clarifies your future
19
Moving from Vision to Action



opportunities, but also forces a company to face problems that could
threaten the company™s survival if not taken into account.

Opportunities. The most difficult thing about opportunity is recogniz-
ing it. The old adage about opportunity knocking once does apply in
many cases, so we need to see it”and be able to act on it”when it
comes. What are our greatest challenges in the changing environment
of the industries we serve? How will new technologies help us? What
will our customers need in the future that we can supply? What op-
portunities will open up globally?

Threats. As with weaknesses, there are some threats we can minimize
and there are others we can™t. We need to do all we can to control the
threats we can predict”and prepare for the ones we can™t. What out-
side our control could threaten our existence? How might new tech-
nology hurt us? What in the political environment (government) might
threaten us? Will ups or downs in the economy hurt us? What in our
physical environment might threaten us? Remember to consider the
following factors:

• Market limitations.

• Lack of availability of capital.

• Problems with suppliers.

• Natural disasters.

• Location challenges.

• Quality of labor pool.

• Revolutionary changes in the industry.

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