The problem: “Vision” is one of the most overused and least understood terms in business. Collins says it combines three elements:
1. A reason for being, beyond making money.
2. Timeless, unchanging core values.
3. Ambitious but achievable goals.
Most organizations start with core values. The best of them create mechanisms that set those values into action. Two examples:
- 3M lets scientists spend 15 percent of their time working on whatever they want. That beats saying, “We support innovation.”
- Small construction materials outfit Granite Rock Co. tells customers that if they don’t like something about an order, they don’t pay for it. That beats saying, “We care about customer satisfaction.”
Lastly, change your process for creating a values statement. The average organization spends 5 percent of the time identifying core values, 90 percent or more of the time drafting statements and 5 percent of the time aligning those values with actions. Instead, plan to spend up to 20 percent of your time identifying values, 5 percent or less writing them and up to 90 percent walking the talk.
— Adapted from “Aligning Action and Values,” Jim Collins, Leader to Leader Institute (formerly the Drucker Foundation), http://leadertoleader.org.