The Strategic Roadmap – Vision of an Organization
July 24, 2018
In this episode of “Generations in Family Business: Past, Present and Future”, Matt Kerzner and Tim Schuster discuss the importance of developing an organizations Vision and how this is part of the Strategic Roadmap Process.
TS: To continue our conversation, a major philosophy for the Center of Family Business Excellence is our strategic roadmap where Matt and I have been taking each step in the process to show people how we work through this. Our last podcast we discussed core values, you know, kind of some questions to be asking yourself are, you know, how does a company define core values, you know, how often should an organization review core values? This week we’re going to be discussing the vision. How should a company define vision?
MK: It’s a great, great question Tim. A vision statement is an aspirational description of what an organization would like to achieve or accomplish in the midterm or long term future. It’s intended to serve as a clear guide of choosing current and future course of action. So organizations should be looking at what do they want to do now, and what do they want to be…
MK:…in the future.
TS: That makes sense. Now what is the purpose?
MK: Yeah, the purpose of a vision statement, first of all it serves as a foundation of the broader strategic plan.
MK: Right? So we’re talking about the strategic roadmap and all the different facets of it, and this is a critical part because it helps really think of, again, if you have this vision of what you want to be in the future, you can then connect the dots to get there.
TS: Gotcha. Always be connecting those dots.
MK:Exactly. Another one is, it can motivate existing employees to attract potential employees because they can clearly describe the vision of the company. So it could be used as a tool to really – I call it the hook…
MK:…to bring people in…
TS: That makes sense.
MK: …to the organization.
TS: I like it. So if an organization is struggling to find its vision, you know, how can an organization start to find it?
MK: Yeah, that’s another great question and, you know, the whole purpose of this is to help the change management of getting from current state to future state of what you want to do with the organization. And I always tell leaders and employees, you know, you want to… you’ve got to think about a few things. One, you’ve got to know yourself, right, as an organization. What are you guys passionate about, right? What gets your juices flowing at work?
TS: This goes hand and hand with those core values that we’ve been discussing you know. Yeah.
MK:Exactly. Listen, there’s a method to that madness of right mission, vision, values, right?
MK: So, the next one is, like I said, what are you passionate about? What are your strengths, gifts and key abilities that you offer to your clients and to your employees and, you know, to all your stakeholders?
MK: And what do you want to learn and how do you want to contribute, right. Another thing to, you know, to what you do for work. And then the second one is you need to know the corporate culture, right? How much do you believe in your mission, right? That mission statement that we talked about.
MK:Do you really believe in it? And that’s going to help the process of developing the vision. What are the real values, right, we talked about all the different values.
MK: So when you start going through all the different values that’s going to help. And then, who would you work with, right? Who are your partners? Who are the vendors? Who are the people that are going to add value to what you offer to services to your clients. And then the next one is know the needs. How much does the organization need me, right, and how does the… your customers need you, the vendors need you, and you think about that. And then how much do I need the organization, right? So as an individual, what do I need and how does the organization need me, vice versa.
TS: Makes sense.
MK:Right. That’s going to help kind of get the process going of developing your vision.
TS: The vision itself.
TS: Makes sense. So what steps can an organization take to ultimately get to its vision?
MK:Yeah, another great question Tim. There’s seven steps that I like to think about when I’m working with organizations to help. The first one is pick your area of focus, right. What are you really good at as an organization, right? What are the core skill sets that you offer? Pick your time frame, right? What is the time frame you’re going to work on this and when are you going to revisit this and I, you know, it’s one of those things that’s very important. Remember your past successes, right? Very important to jot down all the things that you were really successful at and think about those. Write the first draft. The first draft is the hardest draft.
TS: Always is.
MK:But if you can literally, you know, put pen to paper or fingers on keyboard and just brainstorm, draft, right, that’s going to help this. Solicit feedback and input, you know, bring people together. Have a focus group. It shouldn’t be done in an executive boardroom. I mean your leadership is going to think about it, but you’ve got to get the fingerprints of all your employees on it.
TS: That makes sense.
MK: So seek feedback. Go to your key customers and vendors. Let them look at it and see if it makes sense to them if they were reading it. Review and revise, and then review and revise and then review and revise.
TS: And you keep doing this process over and over again and still you get it.
MK:Until you feel really comfortable with what you have. And it does take some time. And then share your vision, right? The worst thing you can do is have your vision and not let anybody know about it.
TS: That’s true.
MK:So develop that communication plan to share your vision and, you know, this is where you can really hit a home run with your customers, when you share it.
TS: That’s true. And they’re involved at that point too so they feel like they’re actively being involved in that process to help you potentially find your vision.
TS: And that’s great.
TS: So can you give us some examples of other companies’ visions?
MK: Yeah, so I have a couple here, actually three famous companies, right…
TS: That’s wonderful, yeah.
MK:…three famous companies. So the first one is McDonald’s and their vision is: our vision is to be the world’s best quick serve restaurant. Right? That’s their vision.
TS: It’s nice and simple.
MK: Right, nice and simple. Amazon – and I love this – is: our vision is to be the earth’s most customer-centric company, to build a place where people can come to find and discover anything that they might want to buy online. Right? Very good.
MK:And then our company, EisnerAmper, I looked at it and we call it the strategic intent and vision and we have three parts to it and I think it’s phenomenal. One is: a national firm built on national practices driven by deep expertise with presence in key locations. To be a firm that provides a broad range of accounting, tax and advisory services that are focused on the needs of our clients. And to be a firm that is sustainable, relevant and important in the markets we serve.
TS: That’s perfect.
TS: Yeah, that’s perfect.
MK:So three different visions but very important that represents them to their stakeholders.
TS: And it’s important to note that they’re all different industries too.
TS: So you will potentially be seeing different vision statements with different industries, you know, so you got to kind of make it work for the industry that you’re specific with.
MK:You’re raising a very good point, you know, at the Center for Family Business Excellence, we work with family and tightly held businesses. I will tell you every family business is different.
MK:So the approach on how you develop your vision and the outcome and the actual vision statement will not be the same. It’s like a snowflake.
MK:They’re all different.
TS: All different.
MK: All different.
TS: That’s great. So how often do you need to revisit an organization’s vision?
MK:At least once a year there should be a formal process that the leadership comes together and pulls out the strategic roadmap…
MK:…that they’re starting, really take a look at the mission, core values and vision. You’re going to build your goals around the vision.
TS: Now are there any exercises that you take family businesses through to essentially find their vision?
MK:Yeah, so, I mentioned, you know, the questions earlier about changing an organization. So really, when you’re working with mission, vision and values is really to talk about, you know, getting to the root cause of what you want to represent to people. So I present a lot of questions - and I already mentioned a few of them: what are you passionate about, you know, what are the strengths and your abilities? I might walk them through a SWOT analysis.
MK:Right - SWOT stands for strength, weaknesses, opportunities and threats - to really help them understand what they’re good at, what they need help in. We’ll talk about key employee positions. All that comes into play when you’re walking through this. It’s not an easy exercise to develop the simple statement or two or paragraph. It takes some time. But if you put in the time, it’s like anything else, right? Exercise is going to bring results.
TS: Yup, yup, yup.
MK:Right? The more you work at this the better vision you’re going to have. The clearer vision you have, the better your employees are going to fall in line delivering what you want to deliver.
TS: Which is the ultimate goal.
TS: That’s fantastic. Matt, thank you so much. And thank you for listening to generations in family business, past, present and future as part of the EisnerAmper podcast series. If you have any questions or there’s a topic you like us to cover, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. Visit EisnerAmper.com for more information on this and a host of other topics. We look forward to have you listen in on our next EisnerAmper podcast.