By Donald Pagel, CEO – Pagel Consulting Group, LLC
I was in church recently and the instructor was talking about distractions in today’s world because of the Internet.
It occurred to me that there have been distractions throughout the existence of mankind. A hundred years ago, it was books. Eighty years ago, it was the radio. Fifty years ago, it was television. The key is to determine what is important to you (or your organization) and commit yourself to the activities that get you there. At the same time, it is important to understand the goals you have and the values you expect from those goals so that you don’t become distracted by other, sometimes loud, priorities. In business, as in life, is about managing multiple priorities but there should always be a vision to guide us when sequencing all of our priorities.
Effective companies today have a vision that they base all goals and activities upon. Some other visionless companies see the activities of effective companies and try to duplicate those activities. But, with no direction, those activities can become complete chaos that can’t accomplish a vision that isn’t even there.
In Alice in Wonderland, the Cheshire Cat gave an important piece of advice in answering Alice’s query about which direction to travel at a fork in the road.
“Alice: Would you tell me, please, which way I ought to go from here?
The Cheshire Cat: That depends a good deal on where you want to get to.
Alice: I don’t much care where.
The Cheshire Cat: Then it doesn’t much matter which way you go.
Alice: …So long as I get somewhere.
The Cheshire Cat: Oh, you’re sure to do that, if only you walk long enough.”
Visionless companies will get “somewhere”, but often towards a bankruptcy court. Vision is everything. Vision gives you a goal to achieve. Vision gives your employees something to believe in and follow. Vision tells your customers that you have a plan and, because your customer can understand that plan, they feel energized to become “part of the family” through the acquisition of your goods and services.
Think about what the great visionaries have done.
- Winston Churchill – Great Britain and western Europe would never have survived the Nazi onslaught without his dogged vision of victory. “Never give up. Never, never give up!”
- Thomas Edison – How many times did he attempt to get the light bulb to work? “Our greatest weakness lies in giving up. The most certain way to succeed is always to try just one more time.”
- Ariana Huffington – She built a media empire that knew how to evolve into the digital world. “We need to accept that we won’t always make the right decisions. That we will screw up royally sometimes- understanding that failure is not the opposite of success, it’s part of success.”
- Jeff Bezos – Was the first entrepreneur that both saw the power of the internet for commerce along with the incredible vision of how to use it to build history’s most powerful commerce company. “If you decide that you’re going to do only the things you know are going to work, you’re going to leave a lot of opportunity on the table.”
- Elon Musk – Has anyone…ever had a vision like Elon Musk. He changed the auto industry and then even changed the space industry! “When something is important enough, you do it even if the odds are not in your favour.”
So, how does all of this relate to strategy? First, you have to have a vision. Second, you have to execute that vision. That is strategy! Strategy is the tool that implements the vision. And, just like you need a visionary to come up with the vision…and someone to follow, you have to have what Gino Wickman in Rocket Fuel calls the “Integrator”. Harvey Mackay, in Swim with the Sharks Without Being Eaten Alive, calls it “the guy in the brown leisure suit”.
This is the person that understands and is passionate about the vision and coordinates all the necessary resources in a company to execute that vision. This is generally the COO who has been granted significant authority by the CEO (generally the visionary) in order to develop the strategy, goals and tasks to ensure the accomplishment of the vision.
Vision and strategy is not only applicable to a company. Every major project in your organization should have its own vision and strategy. They need to follow the overall company vision and strategy, but you will increase the effectiveness of a technology project by setting the vision for it. Pagel Consulting Group, LLC, can help your organization develop a vision and strategy for technology projects and then help ensure the success of those projects. Check out our software selection advisory service and client-side project oversight service. Our goal is to help you find the right technology for the right reason!