Three Steps to a Better Business (and Life)

If you find your business, your work team or your life are either not going in the direction you would like them to, or are just going around in circles and not really going anywhere in particular, there are three steps to take to get them going where you want to them to be going.

There are many different names for the three steps, but today I am going to call them:

Vision, Culture and Strategy

Vision

Vision, in this case includes purpose, it is what you, your team or your business intend to achieve. There are some key points to articulating vision:

1 – Your vision is something you really, really want to achieve. Not just an idea you had that seemed neat last week, but something that matters to you. In my experience it is something most people need to admit to, typically it is something they do not speak about much.

2 – When articulating vision it is essential to let go of “how” to turn reality filters off and just be honest about what it really matters to you to do with your life.

3 – Vision only works when it adds value to all stake holders.

For a team or a business get all of the key people to articulate their personal vision and then go through a process to integrate the individual visions into a collective one that all are inspired by. Check that the final statement – adds value to all stakeholders, is memorable and makes sense in terms of helping people understand what they need to do.

Culture

You could also call this values or behaviours, it is really about how you need to be in order to achieve your vision. This is the set of guiding principles of behaviour that everyone who is in the team MUST exhibit at all times. It is the behaviour that gets recognised and rewarded, behaviour that runs counter to the culture needs to be sanctioned.

1 – Start with the values – what are the key words that both describe how you need to be and how you are comfortable being. If innovation is important for your vision that may be one of your values, if reliability is more important you may need that instead of innovation – for example. I also include behaviours like leadership and teamwork under values (see graphic).

2 – Go through a process with your team (or family) where each individual articulates they values they feel are important and then synthesise those down, through discussion and debate to a manageable six to eight words.

3 – Form a small team around each value, or work through each value in turn, expanding on it in a few sentences to articulate the behaviours associated with the value. For example: Leadership – we expect every team member to lead in their field of expertise or when the situation demands it. We also expect every team member to follow the others when they lead in their expertise or when they take the lead of a situation.

When you have articulated and agreed your set of values communicate them thoroughly with everyone you expect to abide by them. Put them up on the wall, use them in recruitment and inductions of new recruits, put them into training sessions, make videos and so on. Most importantly put them into the reward and discipline structure. If you want people to lead, find ways of measuring it and reward and recognise leadership.

Strategy

Within strategy I also include process and structure. Once you are clear on Vision and Culture you can identify the processes (meetings, targets, measurements, management), the structure (departments, partners, tools, skills) and strategy (who will do what and in which order) to achieve the vision.

1 – Process, identify the elements that need targets and measuring to track progress in pursuit of the vision and of the culture. Identify what needs to happen or to move to deliver on the vision, ensure that there are people, skills and known procedures for delivery, identify ways to measure and track the key ones.

One of the key requirements for pursuit of the vision and delivery of the culture will be the availability of financial resources. Depending on the structure of the organisation profits may be important too. These will also need targets and measuring. Keep the number of measurements focussed on the ones that are really important, not every measurement needs discussion in every meeting, so also have a structure where the most important few are discussed more frequently than others. Do not allow one measurement (such as profit) to become disproportionately important, it will lead away from your vision.

2 – Structure, identify the organisation and resourcing required to achieve the vision, which skills, in what places, which facilities, what will be kept in house and what will be achieved through partnerships and outsourcing. Keep the structure lean, while also ensuring that there is enough capacity to cope with the unexpected.

3 – Strategy, your vision does not need to be limited by what is realistic, but your strategy does. The strategy needs to break down the journey from where you are now to the vision into bite sized chunks that can be tracked. You are unlikely to be able to clearly see the path in detail all of the way to your vision, if you can it may suggest that the vision is not ambitious enough. The strategy needs to be detailed enough for people to know exactly what to do and when over the next few months – longer if there are longer dependencies. Beyond your immediate horizon it can become less detailed.

Strategy need to be discussed, evaluated and amended regularly. Within your measurements you will need to be able to track progress towards the vision and that progress will need to form part of your regular discussions.

As with vision and culture I see strategy as a collective process. A team can come together using a process to identify and articulate all of the elements of the strategy. Involvement in the creation of the strategy increases buy in and enhances the ability to inspire others confidence in it.

Summary

I am working on a set of tools that I call “workshop in a box” to help people run these sessions themselves for their teams or businesses. Each “workshop in a box” would include a pre event survey, inspirational materials, a manual detailing precisely what to do and when and a post event survey. Workshops can be run entirely DIY, with phone support or with a full facilitation team depending on preference.

I am very interested in feedback on this concept – how it might be improved, what you think might really work well and especially if this might be of interest to your business – please let me know.

As part of the Kraft workshop I made some posters of inspiring quotes featuring Steve Jobs, Lady Gaga, Richard Branson, Sir Henry Royce and Gandhi. You can download these from my website – just click on the “free” link at www.neilcrofts.com. They are good enough quality to print at A2.

Please also visit the blog to comment

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With love

nx

Neil Crofts
authentic business
+34 646391384
neil@neilcrofts.com
www.neilcrofts.com
Skype – neilcrofts


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About Neil Crofts

Writer, coach and consultant on authentic business and authentic leadership. Neil has inspired and motivated hundreds organisations and thousands of individuals to their highest potential. Neil has written three published books and numerous e-books. Neil is a coach, facilitator and consultant helping people and businesses find their authentic purpose and use it to inspire and motivate them to be everything that they can be. Neil has raced cars, been self-employed, run a company and sold it, been employed by large companies, experienced growth and contraction at the heart of the dotcom boom, tried changing companies from the inside and from the outside as European Head of Strategy at internet consultancy/rock band Razorfish. Neil has been independent for over 10 years and delivered his Authentic Leadership message to a diverse range of business audiences including people at BP, Shell, Microsoft, Kraft Foods, MSN, Jamie Oliver, South Gloucestershire Council, National Blood Transfusion Service, KaosPilots Business School, Fashion company By Malene Birger, German technology company Eleven.
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5 Responses to Three Steps to a Better Business (and Life)

  1. Thanks Neil. Am in the process of looking at vision for my new business, and this article was very helpful. Also has given me somewhere to go after vision in looking at culture and strategy.

  2. Neil Crofts says:

    Hi Stacy – I just mailed you the vision survey – the questions might be helpful

  3. Toby says:

    Thanks Neil. I always read your Monday Posts. Inspirational! Thank you for all your work.

    I’m working with a company at the moment that has just been stripped of all it’s client base, by some staff leaving and setting up a rival business. Would love to be able to implement this into there business model. If only they would listen!

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