Effectively communicating the strategic vision down the line to lower-level managers and employees is as important as the strategic soundness of the journey and destination for which top management has opted. Winning the support of organization members for the vision nearly always means putting “where we are going and why” in writing, distributing the statement organization wide, and having executives personally explain the vision and its rationales to as many people as feasible.
The more that a vision evokes positive support and excitement, the greater its impact in terms of arousing a committed organizational effort and getting people to move in a committed direction. Most organization members will rise to the challenge of pursuing a path that may significantly enhance the company’s competitiveness and market prominence, win big applause from buyers and turn them into loyal customers, or produce important benefits for society as a whole.
The task of effectively conveying the vision to company personnel is made easier when management’s vision of where to head is captured in a catchy slogan. Creating a short slogan to illuminate an organization’s direction and purpose and then using it repeatedly as a reminder of the “where we are headed and why” helps keep organization members on the chosen path.
It is particularly important for executives to provide a compelling rationale for a dramatically new strategic vision and company direction. When company personnel do not understand or accept the need for redirecting organizational efforts, they are prone to resist change.
Sometimes there is an order-of-magnitude change in a company’s environment that dramatically alters its prospects and mandates radical revision of its strategic course. Intel’s chairman, Andrew Grove, called such occasion’s strategic inflection points. When a company reaches a strategic inflection point, management has some tough decisions to make about the company’s course.
A well-conceived, forcefully communicated strategic vision pays off in several respects:
(1) It crystallizes senior executives’ own views about the firm’s long-term direction.
(2) It reduces the risk of rudder-less decision making.
(3) It is a tool for winning the support of organizational members for internal changes that will help make the vision a reality.
(4) It provides a beacon for lower-level managers in forming departmental missions, setting departmental objectives, and crafting functional and departmental strategies that are in sync with the company’s overall strategy.
(5) It helps an organization prepare for the future. When management is able to demonstrate significant progress in achieving these five benefits, the first step in organizational direction setting has been successfully completed.
CORE CONCEPT: Executive ability to paint a convincing and inspiring picture of a company’s journey and destination transforms the strategic vision into a valuable tool for enlisting the commitment of organization members.
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