In reading Building Your Company’s Vision by James C. Collins and Jerry I. Porras, there were three keys pieces that resonated with me.
First, I was struck with the idea of the BHAG – the Big, Hairy, Audacious Goals. In a previous workplace, the organization was in the midst of trying to make some fundamental changes. Interestingly, they did have a BHAG, though management wanted to be able to implement and see the results within 5 years when in fact, non-management could see that it would take a generation to see the kind of change that was envisioned. None-the-less, I was a part of the vision process since I was doing grant writing which necessitated selling the vision to potential funders and there is something exhilarating about trying to come up with ways to achieve a BHAG.
Another aspect of the article that stood out for me was the idea that you can’t and don’t get people to share core ideology but instead organizations should hire and retain personnel who are predisposed to the core values and purpose. I had never really thought about this aspect, though in retrospect I can see that it is a true statement. In the previously references organization, the people who returned for another academic year were always the people who bought into the vision and endured some of the less desirable aspects of the workplace because they were committed to the values and purpose.
The third piece that is important is that once an organization’s core ideology is made clear, one should feel free to change anything that is not a part of it. In every organization in which I have ever been a part, on at least one occasion it was explained to me that we do things a particular way because that is “they way that we’ve always done it” in the organization. This explanation is unsatisfying at best but really just inspires complacency. I appreciate the idea that all actions can and should be aligned with the core ideology as it ensures that all of the pieces fit together.
All of this plays into the predictability-malleability matrix that is outlined in Your Strategy Needs a Strategy by Martin Reeves, Claire Love and Phillipp Tillmanns. In creating the strategies for implementing the vision for an organization, it is important to know how about the predictability and malleability of the industry and organization. While an organization may have a particular BHAG or core ideologies, it will need to know how to develop strategies that will assist in meeting goals. This is one area where my previous workplace could have used some work as there was an unwillingness to acknowledge certain traits of the environment and to overestimate other traits.