Archives for posts with tag: vision


Why would they care about your vision? It’s not unique enough and filled with corporate speak.

Why would they care about your mission? It’s not aligned with the real product/service experience.

Why would they care about your point of view? You have none.

Why would they care about your company? You don’t care about the stakeholders, you just focus on the shareholders.

When there’s nothing else to care about, people will only care about the price.


Imagine a blank sheet of paper – it represents all that you are. Now, imagine a tiny dot in the middle of the paper. That represents your problems. Most of us walk around life staring at that little dot, and never see whole sheet of paper the dot is on.

We often must step back so we can look at the situation we are presented with. It can be a hard thing to do, and sometimes it may take awhile to approach something from a different perspective, especially when something is particularly hurtful or hard to accept.

In your daily life, it’s much more valuable to focus on solutions than problems.

The opposite is true in marketing.

Focusing on solutions often leads us down the wrong path. The bright-shiny-objects path. The data-obsession path. The technology-will-save-the-world path. Or the comfort-zone path. While we walk down that chosen path, we tend to forget what problem we tried to solve in the first place. We fall in love with solutions. And divorce from the real problem.

We need to stay married to the problem. It’s the reason we’re around. It’s the reason people love some forms of marketing. Because we didn’t offer them a glitzy solution. We solved their problem.


In the good old days, employee communication was one task of the Human Resources department. Unfortunately, most companies still live in the good old days while the demands of the workforce have changed for good.

People want to gather around shared values and create meaningful experiences. Especially at work. They are no longer satisfied being on the receiving end of corporate decisions. They want to be heard before decisions are being made. It’s not enough to carve out one day a year to support Habitat for Humanity. And have problems getting out of bed the remaining 364 days because your employer doesn’t have a corporate vision or mission that gets you going in the morning.

You’ll be amazed how little people know about the corporate vision and mission of their employer. They don’t know why the company was founded, what the company stands for. And bolt at the first chance working for a company that incorporates their internal belief system into everything they do.

People want more than money. A good salary might get them in but it won’t keep them around.

Developing a comprehensive work experience that keeps people engaged, allow them to gather around a bigger cause and share this experience with their networks should be a no-brainer for any company. It decreases turnover and recruiting costs, leads to better performances (individuals and company) and, ultimately, attracts more clients.

And, that’s why HR and Marketing should talk. Marketing focuses on communicating, using the right channels to engage with people, creating memorable experiences. HR should tap into these skills and jointly develop a communication plan, answering these questions:

  • Who owns your brand?
  • What is your employer brand?
  • How do your employees perceive your brand when they get hired? And leave? What happens during the employment experience?
  • Do former employees recommend your brand and ask prospects to stay away?
  • What is the recruitment experience?
  • On-boarding process: How does it communicate the values of your company?
  • Does employee engagement fade over time? Does it increase?
  • Is career development tied to the bigger picture of your brand?
  • Does everybody understand what they need to deliver?
  • What’s the departure experience?
  • Is communication there to get information? Or is information there to get communication?
  • What is being measured? And what should be measured?
  • Are you focused on internal communication? Or employee communication?

Like it or not, everything we do is marketing. Every communication says something about your company. There’s a reason why companies spend a lot of time and resources on finding/developing the right fonts, logo, website, building, office furniture and Christmas presents. And leave the internal branding to a few tasks on the HR Director’s to-do list. Don’t get me wrong: external branding remains important. But it feels soulless and empty without any internal branding. Allowing the enterprise to evolve its brand organically.

That’s why HR and Marketing should talk.

dsc_0299__1Image: Courtesy of Emil Kozak

Organizational design produces the vision of an organization and a desired behavior. The gaps between what the organization is and now is doing, and where it wants to be and to be doing, expresses the challenge to be tackled by gap analysis and gap planning.

Gap Planning determines how the gaps are to be closed or reduced. It is the preparation of the design’s “initial  drawings” which provide the instructions required to close or reduce the gaps. Gaps can be filled by adding things, eliminating unnecessary things or by changing things.


Before any assessment can take place, each stakeholder needs to understand and agree on the new direction of the organization:

  • Communicate widely the vision, mission and pie in sky design
  • Design the data-gathering process and explain to all stakeholders that an enterprise-wide gap analysis will take place
  • Discuss with each stakeholder the benefits and difficulties involved in the transformation process
  • Establish the initial design and data-gathering lead teams
  • Determine the stakeholder task force
  • Establish expectations for ongoing communication, and communicate the philosophy for staffing the organization

Using a combination of survey and group interview techniques, gather information on the effectiveness of the current organization. Data gathered should include: core processes and their effectiveness, additional customer data, critical tasks or key activities, work load, roles and responsibilities, decision-making authority, qualitative data on management practices, and internal issues and suggestions for improvement. Enterprises need to consider the current culture, how change has been implemented in the past, and how is has been received by employees at all levels.

Gap Analysis

In planning the analysis, it is essential to clarify what information is most relevant. This involves specifying intended outcomes and possible unintended outcomes. It also involves plans for assessing how well processes have been implemented and where improvements are needed.

We use the example of a luxury car dealership to illustrate the gaps. In this example, there are several gaps that are important to measure. From a service quality, these include (1) service quality gap; (2) management understanding gap; (3) service design gap; (4) service delivery gap; and (5) communication gap.

Service Quality Gap

Indicates the difference between the service expected by customers and the service they actually receive. For example, customers may expect to wait less than 10 minutes for their loaner car but reality is an average waiting time of 20 minutes. Most cars are being dropped off early am and 10 minutes before work are more valuable to people than after 5pm.

Management Understanding Gap

Represents the difference between the quality level expected by customers and the perception of those expectations by management. For example, in a car dealership customers might expect expediency on their repair but management focuses more on excellence than expediency (for many legal reasons).

Service Design Gap

This is the gap between management’s perception of customer expectations and the development of this perception into delivery standards. For example, management might perceive that customers expect someone to answer their telephone calls timely. Customers might think “timely” is less than twenty seconds and management defines “timely” as less than 40 seconds, thereby creating a service design gap.

Service Delivery Gap

Represents the gap between the established delivery standards and actual service delivered. Now, management might establish a new standard of answering each call in less than 20 seconds but average time of answering is 27 seconds, creating a service delivery gap.

Communication Gap

This is the gap between what is communicated to consumers and what is actually delivered. This happens frequently when dealerships offer low-price oil changes and then charge customer for questionable labor.

Gap Fillers

The most important criteria used in evaluating the gap plan is whether it will the enterprise to push in the right direction, avoiding a chaotic transition and helping the organization to utilize opportunities. It’s extremely important to refer back to the mission statement, and understand if the gap plan will help to fulfill promises made in the statement.

When an individual or a group is confronted with a gap between where they are and where they most want to be, they can respond in four different ways: absolution, resolution, solution, and dissolution. Learning and creativity are enhanced more by design (dissolution) than by research (solution), more by research than trial and error (resolution), and more by trial and error than by doing nothing (absolution). The goal is to design an organization that considers dissolution as their main goal. Dissolution of boxes,  paradigm, linear thinking. Through organizational design, all stakeholders will contribute to the creation of a world they are envisioning to live in.

The efficiency and effectiveness of the gap fillers selected in gap planning are not only matters of selection one of a set of available gap fillers, but are also a matter of creating gap fillers not previously available. Organizational business design unleashes creativity in developing a vision to be pursued by an enterprise. But creativity also has an important role in selecting the gap fillers by which to pursue it. Therefore, the selection of gap fillers can also be more a matter of design than research or common sense.

Last but not least, the gaps treated as challenges in gap planning are almost never independent of each other.  Therefore, their solutions interact systematically. The selection of solutions to close the gaps should take into account these interactions, especially their joint efforts on the enterprises’s overall performance.

Tomorrow we will discuss asset planning.

For your reference, you can find the previous chapters here: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5


Image: Courtesy of Minddesign

“Vision is the art of seeing what is invisible to others.” – Jonathan Swift

Every enterprise needs to set Big Hairy Audacious Goals. These Big Hairy Audacious Goals are your limit. It’s an idealized goal that might never be attained, it’s your Moon Landing. We will talk later how to reduce the gap between enterprise reality and pie in the sky ideal. But, forget about limits for a while. This is about expansive thinking: no borders, no limits, no boxes.

Planning for Pie in the Sky includes:

  • A clear vision of your enterprise
  • A mission statement, expressing the Big, Hairy, Audacious Goals
  • Specific features the enterprise needs to have to achieve the goals
  • A pie in the sky design of the organization

A clear vision of the enterprise

Corporate visions are usually developed by executives, not involving all stakeholders. While developing the vision by few might be more efficient, the vision needs to be shared by all stakeholders in order to be pursued effectively. Most visions define what executives want the enterprise to be in 10 years or so, often forgetting what these executives want the enterprise to be right now. I would argue, it’s imperative to develop a vision that communicates the ideal design of the organization for the here and now, assuming the organizational design will be able to handle changes (and there will be many) without actually forecasting the future. Instead, organizational designs have to incorporate contingency planning.

I have all the plastic in the world but I still carry a few bills with me all the time. I don’t forecast a cyberattack on the banking system, I don’t forecast a massive quake in LA that won’t allow me to access my account for weeks. But all these things and other scenarios are possible. And I would like to be prepared for it.

A Mission Statement, expressing the Big, Hairy, Audacious Goals

Most mission statements are borefests: platitudes of epic proportions. A real mission statement should answer the following questions:

  • Why does this enterprise exist?
  • What are the aspirations of the enterprise?
  • What does the enterprise do to succeed?
  • How will the enterprise pursue its Big, Hairy, Audacious Goals?
  • How will the enterprise serve each stakeholder?
  • What makes the enterprise unique?

While formulating the mission statement, stay away from empty sentences/words, corporate speak and anything your best friend outside of your expertise doesn’t understand.

Specific features the enterprise needs to have to achieve the goals

Whenever we develop a website, the first step is to sit down with all stakeholders to go through their wishlist: What features does each stake holder would like to have? Enterprises have to go through this exercise as well to design their ideal organization.

This can be a laundry list of thousands of items or just a minimal document that describes the structure of the enterprise, corporate culture, management style, employee expectations, high-level ideals of products/services, etc. Each ideal enterprise design is different and the features list will reflect its uniqueness.

A pie in the sky design of the organization

Imagine, your enterprise stopped to exist last night. Nothing else has changed: Technology, laws, regulations, taxes, etc. The environment and systems that surrounded the old enterprise still exist and they haven’t changed. Just your enterprise is extinct. Start designing your new enterprise.

What kind of enterprise would you design if you could start from scratch? How would you design it so the enterprise is capable of being improved continuously from within? We’re not asking you to create Utopia, a perfect enterprise. Instead, your pie in the sky design should incorporate what you want to the organization to be right now. While you discuss these ideas with stakeholders, many new ideas will evolve and creativity will flow freely. This process of collaboration is often the most important product of this step to transform your business. Enterprises need to make sure that during this step self-imposed constraints are kept to a minimum. Stakeholders should not be concerned with feasibility, budgets or implementability. Reminding them that the enterprise was destroyed last night might help limiting those constraints. Keep dreaming.

Next, we will discuss gap analysis and gap planning.

For your reference, the first parts can be found here: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3 and Part 4.


Image: Courtesy of

There are systems that are machines; there are systems that are organisms; and there are systems that are social systems. You would be really stupid to treat a machine as an organism. No machine has any goals of survival or growth. But, for some reason, we do treat organisms as machines. Actually, most companies continue to do so. Treating organisms as machines or social systems as machine might be somehow useful. But it doesn’t deliver the multitude of benefits when looking at a social system as a social system.

One of the unintended consequences of this thinking is the tendency to make people behave as though they were machines. Dehumanizing work has led to alienation from institutions, one of the biggest challenges for companies. The reductive doctrine just goes against anything humans believe in: Holistic medicine, the Earth as a global ecosystem, our planet as part of a bigger universe. We’re living in an age of expansion: To understand anything, we have to look at larger systems. Sure, we might never completely understand everything but our understanding increases when we look at the larger picture, reflecting on the largest systems our mind can comprehend.

But, first, let’s have a look how we got here:

From Industrial Revolution to modern corporation

The Industrial Revolution was about the mechanization of work. First thing we did is to take each task apart. Reducing work to elementary tasks. The next step was to mechanize those tasks. We separated tasks into two piles: tasks machines could do and tasks people were assigned to (because it was too complex for machines, human labor was cheaper, etc.). Once we completed the analysis, we aggregated our findings and developed a workflow of elementary tasks performed by men and machines. These are the basics of a modern factory.

In the early stages of industrialization, an enterprise was created to serve an owner. The only reason of existence for the enterprise was to provide the owner with a return on his investment. The worker was a machine: Input equals Output. As the size and complexity of organizations increased, it became less effective to manage them as though they were machines. Decentralizing control became necessary which was incompatible with a mechanistic conception of an organization.

The next step in organization structures was to separate the body (Corpus, meaning body), the operating unit, and the brain, management. This was a fairly easy way to manage an organization’s growth and increase the diversity of its outputs. The body was mindless. It had no choice. It was still a tool, a lever to be pulled.

In the 60’s, various civil movements (civil liberties, environmental, etc.) formed outside of social systems, insisting that their interests be better served by the systems that affected them. Ethics and social responsibility became cornerstones of successful corporations. The command and control management culture changed during that time, focusing more on managing interactions and enabling people to do their jobs better.

While a lot of progress was being made during that time, companies had to react to the advances in information technology and communication. The common belief was (and often is) that people would react mechanistically to information, meaning more and more information and better communication structures would increase the performance of businesses dramatically. As we all experienced during the Great Recession and the demise of various financial models, humans don’t react deterministically to the information they receive.

Shareholder Value vs Stakeholder Value

The main challenge for modern enterprises is to transform from a shareholder-centric to a stakeholder-centric point of view. It’s not enough anymore to create wealth for a limited amount of shareholders; modern enterprises are tasked to create and distribute wealth throughout society. The primary task for each modern enterprise is to provide productive employment with purpose. Companies have to develop communities of purpose focusing on a common cause, which emanates from common values, vision, and passion.

Sharing a common purpose helps companies to deal effectively with increasing information overload and intensifying conflicts. A social enterprise is capable of continuously dissolving conflict while increasing choice. This requires a new organizational concept that sees evolution as its most important objective. Evolution doesn’t always mean growth: Growth may occur without evolution and vice versa. This new organizational model needs to be based on the pillars of democracy, must be multi-dimensional (function, output and stakeholders), agile planning and an optimization system.

In Part 3, we’ll discuss what new forms of management are needed for the social enterprise based on the principles of Human Business Design.

In case you missed it, Part 1 talked about the nature of systems.