“I have a dream,” by Martin Luther King.
“I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia, the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners will be able to sit down together at the table of brotherhood. I have a dream … .” With this speech over 50 years ago, one of the most profound and elaborated in history, Martin Luther King aroused the world. To this day, his dream is still being fulfilled, but we now live in a much more racially tolerant society.
However, the real question here is: what dreams do businesses have, the importance of having them, and why?
Yes, businesses dream and they share this dream through their vision. The dream, also known as the visualization process – which also includes the definition mission and values – is the starting point of the planning process. There is no business, no plan, nada, if the vision is clearly defined.
Definition of “Vision”
What do we want to achieve in our organization? What challenges would the business face if we changed our objective? What difference would it make to the rest of the company? Would it make the organization more competitive? These are just some of the questions that need to be answered when a company is building or improving its vision. Sometimes, it is necessary.
The company’s dream facilitates the organization’s planning process. It acts as an energizer, pushing the organization in the right direction and helps shape a greater long-term goal that can then be shared with all.
In the 1980s, Steve Jobs had a vision, which was “…to put a [Apple] computer on every desk.” His dream is now a reality, especially when we consider that an iPad or even a smart phone has the same or if not more power as a computer.
The Hilton Hotel vision, for example, is “to fill the earth with the light and warmth of hospitality” and Walmart’s, “to become a world leader in retail.”
To verify what a good vision is, you can ask yourself the following questions:
- What future do you desire?
- What is your motive?
- Is it clear and concise?
- Is it better than it was before?
If the answer’s yes, it makes it easier to endorse your organization and ensure your work complies with your goal.
Definition of “Mission”
Whereby your vision relates to your dream, the mission describes to what it is you do and defines the reason for your business. Try asking yourself:
- What is it you do?
- Who is it you do it for?
- What needs are you trying to satisfy?
- What do our customers value?
- And above all, how do we differ from the rest?
This is very important because, although many businesses essentially do the same thing, you must differentiate your organization from others to make it stand out. Otherwise, your product will just appear like another commodity. Later in the planning process, such differentiation is essential when defining strategies to have that advantage over your competitors.
Walmart’s mission is “to help people save money so they can live a better life”. This says a lot about what the company does and how it is different from the rest. Adopting this strategy has made Walmart a retail leader, enabling it to sell products at the lowest prices in the market. All this has been done through economies of scale, technified and efficient distribution, technological integration with partners, managing customer research effectively, such as demographics and culture, etc. All this success has derived from, as well as hard work, that all important statement, “. . . people save money so they can live a better life.”
The Hilton Hotel mission statement is, “To be world’s foremost hospitality company, the preferred option for both guests, team members, and owners.” This is a great example of a mission statement, mentioning what the company does, how it does it and who it’s for. It is also clear, concise, memorable and easy to remember, which helps the organization focus on what they should be doing.
The values, the way we express ourselves
The values represent how you are going to do it. They express the expectations and conforms of how every employee should work for the organization. It sets the parameters to enable the organization to realize its dream, with respect, teamwork, operational excellence, innovation and integrity being examples.
In Hilton Hotel’s case, their values are based on hospitality, integrity, leadership, teamwork, belonging and punctuality. “Punctuality” in terms of how to deliver the service with quality, having a sense of urgency and discipline. “Belonging” gives the employee a sense of place, motivating and empowering every employee make decisions and take responsibility for them. Each value sets an example of how the company works.
The vision relates to the dream, the mission to what the company does and the values to how the company does it.
- So what is your organization’s dream?
- If it has a dream, does the whole company comply with it?
- Is it clear what the company does?
- Who is the target audience?
- How is it different from what your competitors do?
- Do your employees and colleagues know what is fully expected of them?
I invite you to dream!
Written by Manuel Ramos Topham Ph.D. Manuel Ramos Topham is Director General and a professor at Graduate StraTgia, UPC (Universidad Peruana de Ciencias Aplicadas). Learn more about graduate programs at UPC by visiting the website. This article was originally published on UPC’s blog.