A company needs to have a vision. In the traditional sense, a company’s vision is the basic human emotion that the company seeks to elicit from those that have an experience with it. It sets the grounds for the mission statement and the ultimate raison d’etre of the company and its employees. But vision can be more than simply a statement. A company’s vision is not just the future the company sees for itself but also how it sees and approaches the path to get there.
A company’s lifecycle
The traditional lifecycle of a company through various phases, from launch to decline, was outlined by Dr. Ichak Adize. He outlines a predictable and often seen challenges and patterns that companies go through as they mature through time.
In order to extend the life of the value of the organization, one of the most important aspects is the leadership’s vision. But vision is not restricted to a mission statement or a dreams of profit, instead vision of internal and external forces can be reflective of the company’s growth.
Vision Analysis Chart
Alignment and consistency is important when building anything of value. Ignore it and you may find yourself bouncing between your growth resistance point and a plateau. The following are all common examples that companies face.
- A company with fifty employees with one person responsible for HR and Finance?
- A $20 million budget that still requires the CEO to sign off on the purchase order for pens?
- More customers than the operations department can handle, but no insight into which ones are even profitable?
Many things are microcosm of the larger picture. Three key relationships and the development of how leadership builds and manages these functions should evolve together, leveraging each other’s growth.
Perspective on the Market – How you view your customers
Most entrepreneurs are phenomenal marketing and sales people, with great individual commitment to their customer service and needs. But with growth comes the need to focus and strategically manage the company’s relationship with market.
- Growth – The customer is always right is the mantra with the mindset of growing the client base. Getting the word out and establishing a reputation becomes priority rather than micro-managing and analyzing cost-benefit.
- Profitability – Profitable customers are key and selectively ensuring only those that meet an appropriate ROI are retained.
- Goodwill – A company that focuses on the return on the marketing budget in managing the brand and reputation, rather than only analyzing the profit margins of its direct sales is in the highest evolution of a company. Evaluating the brand value is reflective of a company with a premium on goodwill in the market.
Perspective on the People – How you view your team
Leadership’s perspective on its people is one of the most telling indicators of organizational readiness. The level to which people are generalists or subject matter experts is symptomatic of how responsibilities are assigned. It is also likely a reflection of how authority is designed to be delegated to ensure accountability.
- Generalist & Centralized – While the founder may surround himself with a small team, the entrepreneurial energy likely drives a “everyone is responsible for everything” attitude. This works in a small team because everyone knows who is taking the lead.
- Specialized & Centralized – In order to achieve more, a team must be built around the individual with specialized knowledge and responsibilities. While the team grows, authority remains tight-knit with an effort to slowly trickle down to align with accountability.
- Specialized & Decentralized – Decentralized authority and responsibility are reflective of company which has reached a maturity or growth beyond the founding owner. A company that has clear roles & responsibilities for its employee has the maturity of an enterprise with sustainable long term value.
Perspective on the Company – How you view the entity
In evaluating the value of a company, the first thing that will be looked at is the quality or sustainability of historical earnings. This can only be achieved through the commitment to building an organization that is able to systematically generate a level of profits regardless of the individual names of current cogs in the machine.
The level to which management views, understands and commits to life beyond any sole individual can be viewed through how structured it is and robust the systems are which put the company in auto-pilot.
- No structure – A company with no structure, controls or discipline to maintain focus on sustainability beyond the owner is likely reflective of an owner-operated company whose future is synonymous with the company’s.
- Medium structure – With an increased workforce, corporate functions and systems around HR and Finance are acknowledged as important but execution may be lacking given the maturity level of the company.
- Highly structured – As the organization grows, functions responsible for nurturing the company itself become just as important as those functions responsible for not just obtaining new or servicing end clients. Highly structured companies are prepared for life beyond any single individual.
“Tell me what you pay attention to and I’ll tell you what you are” – Jose Garcia y Gassett
By performing an analysis how the company approaches, views and treats certain relationships, one can get a clearer view on the organizational readiness to reach the next level. In the process of building your vision, leadership can address areas that might be out of sync and needs to be re-aligned. In realizing your vision, sometimes it takes a bit of introspection to observe how you observe.