Where is your company going to be in five years? Do you know? Do you want to know? Most companies do long-range planning. I’m all for planning and making long-range plans, but I would like to see it done differently.
Most executives are paid to create the long-term visions for their companies. That’s why they’re being paid the big bucks. The one thing that’s for sure is that executives today are earning their paycheck. After all, who saw the sub-prime mess five years ago? I’ll bet you can’t think of anyone. What about Obama’s success? He wasn’t even a senator yet. The point is that it is so difficult to predict what will happen in the future so that you can prepare for it. And yet, these executives have to steer their companies forward despite the great unknowns. That’s what makes it so hard to do. How about a different way of creating and driving a company’s vision?
Employees should want to know where their companies are heading. After all, it would be nice to know you can count on a paycheck five years from now. Yet, how many employees are told what needs to happen to make that vision a reality? A paycheck can look a lot less secure if what needs to happen becomes essential. One way for employees to worry a lot less is if management’s goals are based on past performance that’s been successful. Past success is a good predictor of future performance. But, why limit future success to just what management sees? Why not get another point of view to add to the predictions?
I’ve always maintained that the most effective organizations are ones where everyone supports the company mission. For example, if the company vision is based on key sales, why aren’t salespeople involved in at least buying in to the vision? I’ve seen many visions presented over the years. I’ve never heard the question asked, “Can you buy into this vision?” Yes, it was assumed by management that everyone would work towards achieving the vision. Yet, the question of being able to support the vision was never asked. Were they afraid of a negative answer? Perhaps.
I think a vision is made stronger when management shares what they see with their subordinates and gets buy in for making that vision a reality. Agreement is not necessarily what management is looking for either. Employees may disagree with the chosen vision. They still have to be able to support the one that’s chosen. I think the support question should be asked by management and they should be prepared to hear the answer. That way when it’s time to look back and gauge results, everyone is looking at the same picture of success.