Posted on 07/09/2011 · Posted in Change, Projects

In my last post I discussed how complacency can be a barrier to change in an organisation.  I used the Jersey Trust Industry as an example.  This time I would like to explore another vital ingredient to successful change – vision.

This may sound obvious, but if you are looking to change or improve your business then you need to define where you are heading.  This needs to be more than just a vague statement of ‘we want to be better than our competitors’ or ‘we want to make more profit for our shareholders’.   Whilst this type of statement may help to define the direction the company is heading it doesn’t describe the destination.

Spending time clarifying your vision is an essential step on your change journey.  Ideally this will be agreed by the senior management team or main Board of the business.  The vision should be clear and avoid ambiguity.  It should also represent a ‘stretch’ from where the business currently is.

This is where I have a problem with some of the businesses I talk with, or more specifically the managers and staff within those businesses.

One of the challenges of living on an island with a relatively stable population and low workforce mobility is that people often stay in the same jobs for quite a long time.  As well as leading to complacency as described last time, this also stifles vision.  Or to put it another way people no longer have an awareness of ‘what good looks like’ and except mediocrity as their vision.

So if you want your business to succeed and be better than the competition then you must embrace new talent.  A reasonable level of staff turnover helps to invigorate the business and bring in new ideas from other companies and sectors.  If you don’t have the opportunity to bring in new staff directly look for other ways to widen your vision or experience.  Consult with your customers or suppliers.  They will usually be only too happy to help you and can identify areas of focus from their experience of dealing with other businesses themselves.

It may also help to bring in some external expertise such as a management consultant or business improvement practitioner.  Many of my clients use the services of Solitaire Consulting because they need to make sense of the many sources of feedback and opinions they have internally.  Someone from outside the business can apply an objective assessment of your situation and help you make the most appropriate decision about where your business needs to be.

Before you embark on a major change make sure you have adequately defined and communicated your vision of the future.