Remember when a
'guru' speaker was the essential platform highlight at every conference?
This person would present with consummate skill and persuasive passion.
S/he would then retire to the back of the room to speak with delegates
for a few minutes (perhaps more than a few minutes if book sales and
autographs were in demand) and then head off to the next conference.
Things have changed.
Organizations now want to know the person behind the stage image. They
want the presenter's views on the issues of everyday corporate life.
They want to know how their problems compare with those of the corporate
world at large. Managers inevitably spend lunch reaching out for information
on the 'V' words just as surely as they reach for the salt and pepper
Vision and Values
... the 'V' words. These concepts will forever remain as essential as
continuing innovation to corporate success. These concepts recognize
that a corporation is nothing more than the people it employs. These
concepts, sadly, remain largely misunderstood in even the highest profile
and best resource organizations.
Vision is how the
corporation sees its future. The picture is often well outside of what
many in the corporation believe could possibly be achieved. Nonetheless,
management tries to impress its vision indelibly into the hearts and
minds of the workers because hey, it's the nineties, and every decent
organization has a corporate vision. Everybody knows that!
Meanwhile, the people
who make up the organization often continue to lead lives of quiet
Whenever I ask a
conference audience to write down what they would want in a world of
limitless abundance, the answers often can be summarized as a desire
for reasonable health and wealth, great relationships and a happy life.
Never have I had somebody include in their list, "I want to be
part of achievement of our corporate vision." Why? Because most
people are sane, that's why.
When people are
answering this question, they are getting in touch with what Dr. Carl
Pribram, former head of neuro-psychology at Stanford University, calls
their Images of Achievement. In this concept lies the secret of achievement
of corporate vision. Let's examine why.
It is not reasonable
to assume that, if I could demonstrate to our conference audience that
I could deliver the items they scheduled without unreasonable effort
on their part, they would work with me to deliver the goods? If this
is the case, I believe it must be possible to use this principle in
the achievement of our corporate vision.
Firstly, let's digress
for a look at the other 'V', values. People in western society clearly
have a healthy value for money. Without it, there is little chance of
urban survival with any sort of quality of life.
Put those same people
in a situation where their lives are at risk and the only way they can
save themselves is by giving up all that they own, and there simply
would be no doubt about the response. The material possessions would
quickly take a position well subordinate to their personal safety and
However, if these
people's loved ones were in danger, they will more than likely put their
own safety on the line to save those loved ones. A personal values hierarchy
placing money, self, loved ones and spiritual matters in ascending order
at the top of the list is common in our society.
So what is the point
of a corporate values statement declaring that the customer is number
The fact is that
the higher order of values of the people who make up the organization
will usually lead people to put their own spirituality, family and self
above the corporate source of income, the customer, when the chips are
I believe that management
will benefit from taking the time to find out just what are the Values
and the Images of Achievement of the people who work with them. It is
surprising just how often management can deliver what is wanted ...
flexible working hours, or more responsibility, or accountability, or
input into decisions, or simply to be listened to and given respect.
A corporate values statement evolving from an honest appraisal of the
needs of the human capital of an organization will usually have those
people positioned above the customer, and the customer usually fully
Now, back to vision.
When an organization realizes that its values can never be anything
other than the collective values of its human capital, and proudly pronounces
and lives by this fact, people can begin to realize their Images of
Achievement within the organization. In return, they give loyalty, and
the vision of the company is something that is understood and valued
by everyone and not just senior management. When that happens, even
the sky cannot be considered the limit.