There’s a company that had been around for a few years mostly doing work-for-hire products for others when they came up with an idea for a product that they published themselves. The product went on to become huge and in the course of a couple of years, they went from a staff of a few to 65 based largely on that product.
A friend of mine met up with the company’s COO, who told him all about the cool things they were planning to do to expand the product and the community they had built. As they were walking down the hall, they ran into the CEO. When they COO excitedly recounted all the things he had told to my friend, the CEO dismissed all of what he said and started talking about directions that were totally contrary to what the COO stated.
I said I imagined it was because they had not had any vision of what the product could be if it became successful and my friend said that was absolutely what had happened.
Unfortunately, we see this much too often in the business world. Either it is the small business owner who just wanted to put out the product and see if they could make a good amount of money on it, or it is the head of a major company who only knows how to manage without looking to the future. The latter forms a huge problem in today’s economy when management determines that the business credo is to protect themselves from making any less money than they are currently. That’s great when the economy and your business is consistently good and growing, but when it is anything other, it can only lead to layoffs and stagnation – not to mention horrible morale and possible business closure.
While there are books, articles and features about the importance of vision in buisness, it seems to be the hardest ring to grasp. While working on the mission statement for a business, I wonder how many people ponder including “We will make as much money as possible and then stop developing.” Of course no one does, but in practice it really makes you wonder.
Whatever the business and whatever part of the cycle its in, start building up the vision of what it could be. It can always change, but a vision that is tied only to what exists will soon lead to disappointment.