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What makes a Visionary Company?


"The leader has to be practical and a realist, yet must talk the language of the visionary and the idealist." Eric Hoffer

What makes a visionary company? Vision statements, value statements, mission statements, purpose statements, aspiration statements, objective statements, etc. These are all fine and good, but they are not the essence of a visionary company. A "Vision Statement" (or something like it) in no way guarantees that it will become a visionary company!

In their book, "Built to Last - successful habits of visionary companies", Jim Collins and Jerry Porras say that the essence of a visionary company comes from something else. It comes from the translation of its core ideology and its own unique drive for progress into the very fabric of the organization - into goals, strategies, tactics, policies, processes, cultural practices, management behaviours, building layouts, pay systems, accounting systems, job design - into everything that a company does. A visionary company creates a total environment that envelops employees, bombarding them with signals so consistent and mutually reinforcing that it's virtually impossible to misunderstand the company's ideology and ambitions.

The central concept of alignment is what enables a visionary company to do this. Alignment means that all the elements of a company work together in concert within the context of the company's core ideology and the type of progress it aims to achive - its vision.

In his book "
The Six Disciplines", Gary Harpst talks about aligning processes, policies, measures, technologies and people as part of achieving excellence in small businesses too. So, creating a vision is not simply an activity that you have to do as part of planning your business - hoping that this will somehow drive your strategy, tactics and day-to-day activities. The Vision Statement is just a small part in building an excllent company that will last.

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