Monday, July 6, 2015

The Why Behind Our Daily Work

Lindsay Karr

“Building Your Company’s Vision” by Collins and Porras delves into the idea of an organization’s vision:  what it is, why it matters, how to develop and articulate it. I think the whole concept of vision boils down to the why behind our daily work. It is the driving purpose that forms the foundation of any industry, product, and day-to-day work.

I agree with the authors’ observation that the term vision has become so common in organizational life. We often hear this term in the context of our workplace that it is easy to misunderstand what vision means, at root. On the other hand, it is also problematic if employees do not hear about vision enough – if it is not part of an organization’s language or operating principles.

I appreciated how this article provides specific, in-depth questions and advice on how an organization can develop its own vision. Additionally, their ideas have a universal appeal:  any type of organization could use these tools for developing and refining their vision, whether for-profit or non-profit, large or small, and any type of industry. In the eight years since completing my undergrad degree, I have worked in vastly different sectors: healthcare/research, non-profit human service, advertising, and for-profit global manufacturing leaders. But each organization has effectively identified and communicated their vision. While working at each place, I knew without question what the core focus and vision was. Looking back, it is still easy to remember these. No matter how different these companies were, they all did an excellent job of owning their vision.

Once an organization defines its vision, it must be articulated and made accessible to all employees. Common ways seem to be posting it on the company’s external website, intranet, and building walls.

But it is not enough stop there. An organization must communicate how each employee plays a vital role in fulfilling the vision. It is critical that leaders of every team and sub-group are able to articulate the vision to each member of their group. Furthermore, leaders should be able to guide their team members to seeing how their specific group fits into the vision of the overall organization. It could even be taken a step further for a team to develop their own specific vision that fits within the broader organization’s vision. For example, a human resources director should empower his/her team to see that their daily work and responsibilities are a critical part in hiring talented individuals into the organization, and then developing those employees.

Daily pressure of meeting deadlines, balancing competing demands, and managing time can easily sap energy and cause any employee to lose focus of their individual goals and commitment to the work. Thus, it is vital for employees to see how their individual contributions fit into the broader organization’s vision and goals. That could have a direct impact on productivity. It could also be a crucial factor in an employee’s decision to stay at a particular organization or go elsewhere.

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