company vision

The right vision can inspire innovation, passion and pride

Originally published on May 23, 2012 as a Special to Globe and Mail Update

the globe and mail canada

As Canadians, many of us understand the enormous power of a vision. Just imagine holding the Stanley Cup over your head. Millions of fans share a passion for the quest for hockey’s greatest trophy and we continue to believe that the right people, with the right plan, will someday make it happen for our team.

In the corporate world, your goals may not be summed up as neatly as they are in a single gleaming trophy. Nonetheless, your vision for your organization must fuel your people’s hopes and dreams. Your vision should be more than a bottom line or a number on a sales chart. It should be a tangible big-picture goal that galvanizes your people and exemplifies the pride – and the values – of your entire organization.

Professional hockey players will leap off their sick beds or skate on broken legs to play in a Stanley Cup final, driven by that vision of drinking from the Cup or flashing their Stanley Cup rings. To get similar commitments from your team members, your organization must invest time and energy to create lofty, future-oriented visions that everyone can share.

Crafting your vision statement is more than a goal-setting exercise. The process of envisioning and articulating the future offers a singular opportunity to gather the whole team together to build a consensus around not just the organization’s objectives, but also its purpose. With an aspirational vision that goes beyond the company and the immediate needs of its customers, you can create a powerful new springboard for growth and innovation.

To me, the responsibility of articulating an organizational vision belongs to the CEO. As the boss, you are your company’s chief innovation officer. Through the creation of a specific and compelling vision, you can also become chief inspiration officer. Consider Jack Welch, who reignited people’s passion for the behemoth known as General Electric by announcing that GE would exit any industry in which it could not be the clear No. 1 or No. 2 in the market. He focused the company on eliminating waste, trimming bureaucracy and upgrading its products and processes in order to serve customers better – a much more tangible goal than his predecessors’ objective of increasing shareholder value.

With the right mission and vision, you too can tap the true creativity and passion of your people; those deep reserves that most people don’t bring to work unless they’re fired up and striving for meaningful goals.

As an entrepreneur, you have an advantage as an inspirational leader. It was likely your vision of creating something new – a product or service that was much better than anything that came before – that spawned your organization in the first place. Keep that vision alive. Update it and share it. Your singular vision will bolster the energy and clarity of your whole team. It will act as a beacon to guide future decisions and rally others – customers, suppliers, and other potential partners – around your mission.

My advice: Keep your vision lofty. Of course it must be doable – but maybe it shouldn’t be too easy. To drink from the Stanley Cup, your team must win four hard-fought best-of-seven playoff series against equally fired-up opposition. That’s what makes a vision so powerful; who knows when you will have a chance like this again? Make sure your vision appeals to the highest and best values of your team – and keep the pressure on.

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Most trusted brands start here.

Branding Insights
One of a series by John Paulo Cardoso, Spyder Works Chief Creative Officer & Founder

brand-marketing

One of the guilty pleasures of being a branding professional is reading the annual parade of polls that list the world’s ‘most trusted brands’. If you’re a small or medium sized company, the chances are, you’re not on those lists. That’s why I tend to look at them for entertainment purposes only. But even though few companies will ever grow to the stature of Coca-Cola, Apple, Google or Mercedes Benz, there is a key lesson to be learned from ‘most trusted’ polling. And to me, that lesson is ‘know who you are’.

Understanding what is unique about your brand and why customers buy from you is the foundation of your success. If you stay true to those insights, they will guide you through your strategic planning, your product development and your market expansion. In other words, staying true to who you are will allow your customers to trust you.

When I ask my clients who they are, some have a tendency to translate the question into ‘what are you?’ And they might answer with something like, “We’re the second largest manufacturer of low-flow control systems in the tri-state area.” Then I’ll nudge them into telling me why. And that’s where we begin the brand building process. Whether they tell me that they have the most stringent quality controls in their industry, the lowest prices or the best after-sales service, what they’re really articulating is what makes them a unique brand and why their customers trust them. They are defining the active ingredient in their brand. And knowing that is the battering ram that opens the door to future possibilities. It gives both of us the plotline we need to tell the company’s story and grow into the number one manufacturer of low-flow control systems in the tri-state area.

Lesson learned is that you don’t need to have revenues in the tens of millions to be a most trusted brand. You just need to be true to who you are.

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Ding-Dong, This is Your Wake-up Calling

Innovation Insights
One of a series by Ken Tencer, Spyder Works CEO

brand-empowerment

Dove speaks to “real beauty,” and Revlon to hope. There is Martha Stewart who has redefined the notion of ‘living’ and, of course ‘O’, the empowerment juggernaut.

But Avon Products is still best known for “ding-dong” – the century-old symbol of how they deliver, not what they deliver. Well, today the middle class are not at home during the day, they’re at work. And every business now provides in-home shopping, through the Internet, and next-day delivery.

Avon’s recent fourth-quarter results showed a sales drop of 4%. After 125 years, it needs a new direction. Avon needs to build on platform, not process. Avon needs to focus less on finding new ways to sell its products, and more on making people want to buy them. Capture the imagination of consumers, and they will want to find you. Avon should cull its 20-years-behind roster of celebrity endorsers and embrace the A-list: a socially interactive, engaging and inspiring life of beauty, glamour and style.

Process and delivery are important to every business-consumer relationship; be on-time, be in-stock, perform the way you promise – but today they are a “given.” What you make and how you deliver is not as important as how your customers perceive your brand’s ability to positively impact their lives.

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