Purpose and performance

First, it must capture the emotional and inspiring purpose of the organization, the values that drive actions, and the desired standards of behaviours that stem from these values. These are all on the emotional side of the framework and are what employees consistently find most inspiring. This is what I call the PURPOSE side of the framework.

Second, it must capture the desired future, the four or five strategic priorities that must be delivered to achieve the future, and the key objectives that will deliver each of the strategic priorities. This side of the framework is the numerate side the strategic, highly rational and measurable aspects of the vision story. This is the PERFORMANCE side of the framework.

All six of the elements discussed in more detail below are needed for the framework to work, and provide a full story. It is only when all six are articulated that the story is complete in an employees mind. Sometimes, I have been able to insert a seventh element in work I have done with clients something I call their True North. This True North is a never-ending quest, one that they will always be seeking to achieve and, if they have achieved it, always trying to maintain. I will explain this in more detail a little later.

One of the most significant problems I have experienced in this field of work, is that leadership teams always use many different words to describe the vision thing. They use vision, mission, purpose or strategic intent. The first problem here is that very often people will be using the word mission, but everyone around the table will have a different view of what it means. Is it about delivering value to shareholders? Is it about a noble purpose? Is it the top line of our business plan?

When you are working with a team to set a vision framework, it is crucial that everyone agrees the meaning of each of the words you choose to use. So long as everyone has a common understanding of what you mean, you will be more likely to provide clarity.

For the sake of clarity in this book, I define them as follows:

Your purpose is why you exist, what you are here to do for your customers that makes a difference to them.

Your values are your core principles, the qualities you consider desirable, the powerful beliefs which will drive all of your behaviours.

Your behaviours sound obvious, but should clearly link to the achievement of both your purpose and your vision. These are your beliefs in action.

Your vision is your picture of the future, described both in numbers and in terms of the quality of key relationships needed if all of the organizations goals are to be achieved.

Your strategic priorities are the crucial things you have to do if you are to achieve the vision, usually confined to between three and five.

Your objectives are the clearly defined, supporting goals that must be delivered if each of the strategic priorities is to be achieved.

The main reason for setting this framework out so clearly, is to enable line management to communicate and interpret the framework right down to the front line of the organization. The job here is to ensure that all employees on the front line have a clear line of sight from their jobs to the overall vision of the company that employs them. That line of sight is one of the most important tasks of leadership, and is only delivered when leaders work with the teams to interpret the overall framework to local circumstances.

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