Image: Courtesy of Minddesign
“Vision is the art of seeing what is invisible to others.” – Jonathan Swift
Every enterprise needs to set Big Hairy Audacious Goals. These Big Hairy Audacious Goals are your limit. It’s an idealized goal that might never be attained, it’s your Moon Landing. We will talk later how to reduce the gap between enterprise reality and pie in the sky ideal. But, forget about limits for a while. This is about expansive thinking: no borders, no limits, no boxes.
Planning for Pie in the Sky includes:
- A clear vision of your enterprise
- A mission statement, expressing the Big, Hairy, Audacious Goals
- Specific features the enterprise needs to have to achieve the goals
- A pie in the sky design of the organization
A clear vision of the enterprise
Corporate visions are usually developed by executives, not involving all stakeholders. While developing the vision by few might be more efficient, the vision needs to be shared by all stakeholders in order to be pursued effectively. Most visions define what executives want the enterprise to be in 10 years or so, often forgetting what these executives want the enterprise to be right now. I would argue, it’s imperative to develop a vision that communicates the ideal design of the organization for the here and now, assuming the organizational design will be able to handle changes (and there will be many) without actually forecasting the future. Instead, organizational designs have to incorporate contingency planning.
I have all the plastic in the world but I still carry a few bills with me all the time. I don’t forecast a cyberattack on the banking system, I don’t forecast a massive quake in LA that won’t allow me to access my account for weeks. But all these things and other scenarios are possible. And I would like to be prepared for it.
A Mission Statement, expressing the Big, Hairy, Audacious Goals
Most mission statements are borefests: platitudes of epic proportions. A real mission statement should answer the following questions:
- Why does this enterprise exist?
- What are the aspirations of the enterprise?
- What does the enterprise do to succeed?
- How will the enterprise pursue its Big, Hairy, Audacious Goals?
- How will the enterprise serve each stakeholder?
- What makes the enterprise unique?
While formulating the mission statement, stay away from empty sentences/words, corporate speak and anything your best friend outside of your expertise doesn’t understand.
Specific features the enterprise needs to have to achieve the goals
Whenever we develop a website, the first step is to sit down with all stakeholders to go through their wishlist: What features does each stake holder would like to have? Enterprises have to go through this exercise as well to design their ideal organization.
This can be a laundry list of thousands of items or just a minimal document that describes the structure of the enterprise, corporate culture, management style, employee expectations, high-level ideals of products/services, etc. Each ideal enterprise design is different and the features list will reflect its uniqueness.
A pie in the sky design of the organization
Imagine, your enterprise stopped to exist last night. Nothing else has changed: Technology, laws, regulations, taxes, etc. The environment and systems that surrounded the old enterprise still exist and they haven’t changed. Just your enterprise is extinct. Start designing your new enterprise.
What kind of enterprise would you design if you could start from scratch? How would you design it so the enterprise is capable of being improved continuously from within? We’re not asking you to create Utopia, a perfect enterprise. Instead, your pie in the sky design should incorporate what you want to the organization to be right now. While you discuss these ideas with stakeholders, many new ideas will evolve and creativity will flow freely. This process of collaboration is often the most important product of this step to transform your business. Enterprises need to make sure that during this step self-imposed constraints are kept to a minimum. Stakeholders should not be concerned with feasibility, budgets or implementability. Reminding them that the enterprise was destroyed last night might help limiting those constraints. Keep dreaming.
Next, we will discuss gap analysis and gap planning.