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Even if your business revolves around a single product - to whom do you intend to sell it? How far afield do you intend to find your market? From what kind of facility do you intend to produce whatever it is that you produce? What is the impact you expect to have on your community? On your industry?
Companies that flounder often do so because the vision has not been clearly defined. Their daily work becomes transactional and immediate. They respond to the moment, working IN the business instead of working ON the business. And conflict abounds because there are no bigger reasons to delay gratification (like excess profit taking), or to make the difficult decisions that will bring long-term benefit.
The next problem that occurs is when the company leadership beyond the founder/CEO is not in sync with the vision. They can't, of course, be in sync when there isn't one, but here's how the out-of-sync leadership team happens when the CEO already has established a vision:
- The CEO doesn't share his or her vision clearly enough that the leadership team can understand it, much less implement it.
- Individuals are hired for their skills without considering their values and attitudes. This means that they may engage in behavior that compromises the company's future. Or they may simply be dead weight, dragged along through extra energy expenditure on the part of the CEO.
- The CEO of an established company chooses not to include senior leadership in the updating of the vision. This is the CEO's prerogative, but if his or her goal is to have the leadership team implement the vision it's strategically beneficial to include key internal stakeholders in the plan updating process. Obtain their input and thereby their buy-in from the beginning.
- The CEO neglects to reel in leadership behavior that is out of alignment with the vision. The CEO should discuss misalignment issues promptly, directly and specifically with the offending party, If there is not improvement, progress through the standard disciplinary procedures. The CEO creates a cultural problem if and when he or she does not nip this behavior in the bud. The problem will not go away. It will grow.
The individual who chooses to start a business might have no idea how big it will grow. Countless behemoth businesses started in a garage, or as a box of files under a bed, or with a truck and a toolbox. The CEO of a growing business might feel tempted to avoid planning or to keep it under his vest because of discomfort with his changing role as the business grows. The skills needed for running a one-truck HVAC business are quite different from the ones needed to run a company with a fleet of 20 trucks and 35 employees. And unless the CEO owns a crystal ball (and knows how to use it) the future can be extremely difficult to project.
Who, though, is going to set the course if no destination is defined? Ultimately the buck stops in the corner office, whether that corner is in a deluxe office suite or a work station in the back of a retail facility. It's your vision, biz owner. So let's get busy.