Top 10 Things I Learned #6 – Vision is Everything

Top 10 Things I Learned in Business School #6

Vision is Everything

When trying to accomplish anything professionally one has to have:

  1. a clear sense of where one would like to be
  2. the ability to communicate that to others
  3. a fairly good idea on how to execute it

Being driven by a purpose is something that everyone understands. It gets you out of bed in the morning because you’re contributing to something meaningful. A book and theory that I came to like very much is Purpose by Nikos Mourkogiannis. He’s an academic writer on corporate strategy. In this book he states that purpose-driven businesses outperform others. They are also a hallmark of turnarounds and restructurings. Examples:

  1. Apple’s relentless drive to make computing intuitive
  2. Sam Walton’s dedication to service and value
  3. Jack Welch’s heroic efforts to reinvent GE

I have attempted many entrepreneurial endeavors mostly as a part of other teams, but also a few on my own. I have had the most success with those that fundamentally made a customer’s life better, like those above. Some of you may debate those I have chosen above, to which I would say: “bring it.” (homage to: Christopher McCusker)

I have had the most success as a leader, when I communicated a vision of excellence to my team and helped them develop their own plans to get to there. It’s not enough to understand it yourself. You have to explain why your purpose is relevant to those that follow you and then help them. Easy wins are excellence, discovery, and altruism.

Jack Welch was brilliant with this. He forced managers to cut inefficiencies within the business even if they had been common practice for years. He provided educational opportunities for his employees to learn and remained ruthlessly egalitarian in how decisions were made. What a hero!

Steve Jobs consistently invented products the world needed (iBook and iPod) by recognizing the simple needs of his customers. They pretty much invented the “Blue Ocean” case studies for him. Brilliant!

My point is:

  1. Set a goal to make people’s lives better. Narrow that goal into something specific to your purpose. This includes your employees, your teammates, your customers, and your family.
  2. Communicate your desire to help them establish their own goals and plan effectively.
  3. When making decisions: be ruthlessly egalitarian, reward performance, and make sure you have at least 3 good reasons whenever you say “no.”