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Understanding the "Vision Thing"

No matter what business you’re in, there’s evolution going on.

Every organization requires management to constantly perform course corrections. Sometimes that’s exhilarating, frequently it’s risky, often it’s painful. And change usually causes unease on the part of employees who are threatened by it. But as the saying goes, “if you don’t like change, you’ll dislike irrelevance even more.”

A company only survives when leadership sets the vision based on feedback from the marketplace. And the only way to get that feedback is to be immersed in the business.

Understand your customers’ pain and actively solicit feedback from them about the competitive and operational challenges they face. Understand how effective your team is at helping them — even (especially) if the feedback is tough to hear. Get to the unvarnished truth about how well your company works with customers and understand what internal processes slow your employees down.

Some employees may take your engagement as a sign of interference, micromanaging or lack of confidence and encourage you to step back and just let them do their jobs. But don’t. Vision can’t be set without a deep level of engagement on your part.

I’ve experienced what happens when management isn’t engaged, both working for someone else and in running my own company. If you don’t have an understanding of how your organization is performing and what your customers need, you won’t have the tools to set the vision. And the marketplace will charge a steep price for that.


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