Communicating the vision

A personal view, by Jack Miller.

Pick the number one problem you have in your company. I bet you it’s “communication”.

At least that’s what we’ve found our number one problem to be. Communication - the race to beat the grapevine. That ever-present, always-speedy, and usually inaccurate grapevine. There always seems to be a tremendous “need to know”. If that need is not satisfied with timely, accurate and good information, it will be satisfied with rumors, half truths and worse.

But this “need to know” is not a bad thing. In fact, I believe it’s quite healthy. All of us devote a good proportion of our lives to work. We want to know what’s going on , how the company is doing, what changes are taking place, what results we’re getting, how what we’re doing has some meaning. I believe that it’s a good, healthy desire, this “need to know”. If it is properly satisfied, it can be a powerful tool to help form a strong, cohesive team that has a vision far higher than just an individual’s own particular job. Let me illustrate this with the following story.

A man was walking down the street one day and saw two bricklayers at work. One seemed disgruntled and unhappy; the other was working cheerfully away, seemingly enjoying his work. So the man went to the first bricklayer and asked what he was doing.

“Oh” he said, “I’m just putting these bricks down, slathering this stuff on them and putting more bricks on top of that, over and over, all day long”. The man went to the second bricklayer and asked him what he was doing. “Me?” he replied. “I saw the plans. I’m building a beautiful home. A family is going to live here and raise their kids here. And he went on cheerfully laying bricks.

When people don’t know what the vision of the company is, don’t know how the company is progressing, don’t know what is happening, then they are simply putting down bricks, slathering down bricks, slathering some stuff on them and then putting down more bricks, hour after boring hour, day after uninteresting day.

But, when the vision, progress and problems are shared, work takes on a new meaning. More importantly, they have a real understanding of what they can do to help achieve that vision. It’s amazing how much every person in the organization can add, once they know what the organization is trying to achieve and once everyone focuses on the same objectives. Personally, I call this concept “then power of 1000 minds”.

But it isn’t something that just happens. Firstly, the leader(s) of the organization must think out and put into words exactly what the vision or strategic objective - is. Then, this must be communicated to everyone, repeated and reinforced constantly.

If this is done well, the result is a lot of people “building a beautiful home” or in many cases “a great business”.

So communicating the vision can make all the difference.