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Attaining the Holy Grail of Realizing Company Mission and Vision

If you ever want to know whether the man appointed at the top is truly a CEO or just improvised COO material, ask him one question: What steps have you taken to translate the Company Vision into behavioral competencies and measurable events?

A CEO would have taken concrete steps and would be aware of the processes in place to translate company vision into reality – a COO heads the running of operations, even if you make him a CEO, he would still think that the Company Mission and Vision is something like a school prayer – you pay lip service, but there's no overwhelming need to actualize it methodically.

However, this is a job, which to be done properly, has to be owned by the CEO but executed by the COO, who'd be doing the heavy lifting. This is because a COO is more conversant with behavioral competencies, and it takes teamwork at the top, because a map of the world is useless to those trekking on foot – they need the map broken down to local level.

Translating Company Vision into a Performance Culture:

The translation of company visions into behavioral competencies is important because it generates a distinctive performance culture of the company. To integrate company vision into a performance culture, the attributes of the performance culture already existent within the company needs to be assessed. This assessment and consequent tweaking happens on the following behavioral fronts:
  • Achievement: The internal push for stretching objectives, the culture of accepting personal risk-taking and initiatives, and issues that generate a sense of urgency
  • Seeking information: The systematic attempts of finding information and feedback and involving others in gathering information
  • Helping and mentoring: Helping to develop others, the values and models of coaching, training, and developing employees within the company. Performance awards and incentive culture also comes in here
  • Cooperation and teamwork: Creating a positive work-climate and attempts to empower other employees; the culture of conflict resolution, removal of adversarial competition and promoting sportsmanship
The behavioral competencies mentioned above, usually, form the heart of focusing culture change and translating the vision of a company into action. Suitable tweaking and alignment of these behavioral competencies, in their turn, affect dependent cultural patterns within the company like performance management, compensation award and development, talent management etcetera.

Too often, in place of handing a roadmap to employees, the management provides a list of things to be done. It is important to understand the difference between a roadmap and a list is that a list only numbers things to be done, while a roadmap specifies outcomes, the process of measuring those outcomes, and the timeframe of those outcomes.

To bring radical cultural change within a company, the roadmap should always build SMART targets: Targets that are Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Timeframed.

There are company cultures where the CEO puts off realization of company visions for fear reprisal from stakeholders opposing change. But companies with similar cultures (that do not emphasize on realizing their company visions) would just remain money-makers, not game-changers, and that money-making would also crumble one day due to the lack of definable and distinctive company identity visible to an internal workforce.

Without defined patterns for observable behavior, it is impossible for concerned members of a workforce to work coherently towards achieving a common goal. When target behaviors are not well-defined and not clearly linked with company vision and business strategy the roadmap becomes foggy and business goals become limited only to generation of immediate profit.

Source: Christopher S. Dawson, Leading Culture Change: What Every CEO Needs to Know (Stanford, CA: Stanford Business Books, 2010)