The democratisation of vision
Leaders have always been responsible for setting the course. For deciding upon the objective, then leading a senior team to devise a strategy to reach it. In a modern military context, a major plan is often built of a number of different smaller objectives. The tasks of accomplishing these are distributed across different units. Within each unit, the officer commanding will brief his or her team – beginning with the non-commissioned officers. So although the primary major objective may have been devised at the most senior level, the plan to achieve it is spread across multiple groups, and responsibility allocated onto various shoulders. This creates ownership or ‘buy-in’ among the larger body of people whose job it is to carry out all the many tasks needed for the operation to be a success.
Business is no different. Or should be no different. A major commercial goal is set by the board or executive lead team. Responsibilities for the various sub-tasks that are required to cumulatively reach the objective are then allocated to other managers. Who in turn are responsible for the performance of their team in meeting their specific goal – because each individual appreciates the contribution they are making to reaching the major goal for the entire organisation.
Or that’s how it should look. It’s a very simple truth that people perform better when they feel part of an aligned team. The same applies when each person is made aware of the specific value of their individual contribution as part of reaching a greater goal. However the shift in the relationship between employer and employees has brought this into even sharper focus. A climate of constant change, cycling insecurities and incessant need for innovation has led many to want deeper understanding of the business they work for. Plus the escalating demand for sustainable and restorative practices leads employees to want to be aware of the impact they and their organisation are having on environment and community.
This creates a valuable opportunity for CEOs to break with long-term traditional practice, and to involve employees – whether wholly or via a tiered process – in discussing and formulating the fundamental vision of the business. The big challenging target that sits out on the horizon, at which all efforts, resources and capabilities will be directed for the foreseeable future. To create a forum where the organisation as a whole is invited to become involved in designing both their and the organisation’s future. With a small team, this is a facilitated workshop session. In a larger business with too many to involve in person, perhaps with multiple locations, digital channels and video presentations come into play.
Of course the CEO and senior leaders still retain the responsibility to direct the process and final outcome. And to veto input and ideas that are not in the best interests of the business. But in an epoch where businesses are required to be agile, fleet-of-foot, constantly innovative and ever-ready to pivot in order to protect their territory or migrate into a new one, having an engaged workforce with inherent understanding of the big reasons why decisions are taken creates a strongly aligned entity that is far better prepared to respond to opportunity and deal with knock-backs. It’s time well-invested that will result in a stronger business and open the way for a more collaborative operating culture as everyone targets the big goal.
If you would like help sharing and ultimately defining your business' vision, Tickled Pink has a structured workshop process that will guide you. Together we interrogate your business from the inside. Next we look at all the potential external factors - from environment and socio-cultural to economy and technology - that could have a bearing on your direction and success in the short to medium term. Then armed with these insights, we open the process up to your employee team. What do they know? What do they care about? How can they contribute? Then ultimately we arrive at a vision for the future of the organisation that not only represents commercial success - it aligns every individual through their personal contribution, linked to a powerful internal purpose and set of universally upheld behavioural values.