Begin with the End In Mind or Better Said with a Vision

Point A to Point B

The phrase “Begin with the end in mind” is what Dr. Stephen R. Covey (7 Habits of Highly Effective People) began schooling business leaders and personal growth learners in 1989. It remains an informative read. How many entrepreneurs and business teams today have a clear repeatable vision of what the business will look like ten, five or even three years out? The vision for them is often described not as a picture of what the company, culture, customer benefit, and measurable objectives of the business look like. Rather it is something like “by then – assuming we are still around – we should have overcome the challenge of integrating that new ERP system, gotten through the regulatory issues, straightened out our service delivery snafus, and hopefully have raised our profit a couple points so the investors are willing to support our next product release.”

What does that vision do to the organization? How motivated is the executive team?

What are they sharing with the rank and file?

There is a better way.

A vision of where you want to be in ten years sets the tone for the WHOLE organization. It raises an aWareness that an owner plans to be around for ten years or more. An associate hears and thinks, “assuming I like what I get out of and are appreciated for what I put into this organization, it could be my home for more than one or two years”, which is typical turnover in many companies.

Great Vision is a collaboration of the executive team. It not only serves as an evolving story of the journey to sHare regularly across and throughout the organization, but also as a GPS coordinate as decisions are made to navigate the seas between here and now and the path to the new world defined by the vision. It makes it easier to say “no” to challenges and decisions that do not get you there, and “yes” to things that support the journey. Ask any captain what happens when you remove barriers – it increases the speed of travel to your destination.

Vision is the end in mind to define the quarterly and annual steps or Objectives that drive actions toward success. Objectives or goals make teams and individual contributors accountable for progress, and help make decisions about whether you have, as Jim Collins puts it, “the right people in the right seats” and ultimately “the right people on the bus” (Good to Great). Enabling associates to understand their role, the objectives, and to see the vision keeps them better focused, needing less direction and ultimately more motivated. What was that about increasing speed?

Leveraging the vision, is the job of Leadership. The course of the ship will need tweaking over any long-term voyage, but the adjustments are how you get there, more so than changes to the vision itself. Executive teams need to model the required culture described in the vision by meeting regularly, and working to remove barriers that ensure corporate (mutual) success.

Execution of the vision is the purpose of being a business in the first place. Getting the whole organization to “engage” as Captain Kirk of the Starship Enterprise (Star Trek) commanded, meant that the entire ship and everyone on it moved in the same direction, no stragglers, no indecision, no uncertainty of the crew as to where they were headed. Vision gives meaning and focus to the acts needed and the sense of urgency to remain on course. The journey can be energizing, and parts of it may not feel like work at all if you know where you are going, or if you “Begin with the end in mind”.

Gregory Marvin

About the Author
Gregory Marvin is a seasoned executive with a background in operations, finance and service. Greg has experience in strategy, change management, human resources, clear analytical reporting and customer satisfaction. Greg has built effective teams with entrepreneurial spirit that exceed company and customer expectations. Greg formed C-Level partnerships with Fortune 100 clients and turned-around struggling accounts. Greg is accomplished in product services, marketing, pricing, strategic relations, and negotiations in both B2B and operations. Recognized as a passionate and innovative leader with strong vision and excellent people skills who excels at building focused strategies.