Two weeks ago, I attended a GEPA workshop on the traditional practice of establishing a clear vision for a business. A vision is the strictly-defined direction a founder wants his or her business to go. For example, Apple Inc. founder Steve Jobs’ vision was to “put a computer in the hands of everyday people.” Jobs achieved his vision by hiring the best people and keeping them aligned with his business strategy.

Apple Inc. and other companies driven by a founder’s vision have found a measure of success, but a shift in the business paradigm may be afoot. According to management expert Frederic LaLoux, guiding a business solely with the founder’s vision creates a hierarchy – with the founder as sovereign and employees as mere servants– and is unnecessary for business success. In his book “Reinventing Organizations,” LaLoux describes hundreds of businesses that have found success in operating as an ecosystem – in which the business vision is less defined and employees’ ideas fuel business strategy – instead of a hierarchy. Although less-defined business strategies, such as Lean-Agile methodologies, are gaining ground, what are the pros and cons of such practices?

 

Drawbacks of a less-defined business strategy

Risks purpose

  • It’s set that people want to learn, but we learn by mistakes. If everyone in a company takes part in making decisions, could some of those decisions be irrelevant?
  • It’s set that overthinking reduces productivity.

 

Brand issues

  • Branding might be confusing.
  • Brand value might decrease.
  • Credibility issues from providers, customers, banks, etc.

 

Management worries

  • The CEO might think that he is no longer needed.
  • Some employees might not want the responsibility of helping chart the course of a business
  • Working in many directions at the same time could lead to nothing being done well
  • It could lead to conflict with authority.
  • Project owner might be disappointed if project fail.
  • It would be unclear on what to implement to keep operations under control

 

Finance management

  • Budgets aren’t under control.
  • Stakeholder doesn’t trust anymore in management.

 

Reasons to define strategy through action

Strategy point of view

  • A strictly-defined vision can blind a company to opportunities.
  • An adaptable vision allows for change in business practices to take advantage of opportunities.
  • The bank of ideas grows, since all employees, and not just management, contribute to business decisions.
  • Be aware of weak signals from competing projects and then get a better reaction.

 

Management

  • Plays down responsibilities of the management, which leads to less pressure.Reduces CEO’s stress.
  • Employees are free to choose the way to do things.
  • Better reactivity, especially in customer relationships.
  • Change duties in passion.

 

Creativity

  • Frees employee potential.
  • Develops collective intelligence.

 

What to do ?

A well-established company could find it difficult to change its business strategy. The situation could be just as difficult for a startup company, which would have to ask if it has the time and money to test various strategies.

Instead of a major overhaul, however, why not think of changing things one practice at a time, such as launching an internal blog? This is a trend that allows management to get feedback and input from employees.

 

What do think about this new concept?

What if an entrepreneur told a great story about a vision once it had been achieved?

Maybe the vision was totally different 10 or 20 years ago. Is talking about the vision a way to market the company?

What do you think?