By Robert D. France
CEO, Senate Construction Corp.
Who was he to tell me I needed a business plan? I was pissed off that this young whipper-snapper who didn’t know the first thing about what was involved in running a business was telling me, an expert in my field with 30 plus years of experience, what I needed. I rationalized in my demeaning manner and conveyed to him that “having a business plan had nothing to do with the bad economy and that he should focus on what he needs to do and that was to find us business!”
After cooling down, I realized that I had subscribed to the notion that outside forces controlled how I, as an individual, and we , as a company, were performing. I had never believed or accepted this rationale in the past. My belief has always been that you create your own economy and that your activity and behavior determines your outcome. Inspired by my son (thanks Son) who in turn was advised by another veteran of many year’s (thanks Ed) that we must have a business plan, I began the process of re-invigorating the Vision I had held so dear many years ago.
The first order of business was to re-read an article in the Harvard Business Review that I had glossed over in the past and never really understood how important clarity of Mission and Vision are to insure sustainability of my business. Establishing and memorializing “The Senate Construction Way” is
paramount to our continued success and growth. Our success and growth in some small way is my
contribution to our community locally which will trickle up statewide, nationally, and globally (if my understanding of cause and effect are true).
What I gleaned from this article, from my experience, and from my observations, hold true in business and can be applied to your life in general. Embracing the advice of this article and applying the concept will give you clarity and define a path to follow.
Here it is the summary in a nutshell;
1. Companies that enjoy enduring success have core values and a core purpose that remain fixed while their business strategies and practices endlessly adapt to a changing world.
2. A well-conceived vision consists of two major components: core ideology and envisioned future.
3. Core ideology defines the enduring character of an organization (in our case “The Senate Way”) and an individual.
4. Core ideology provides the constant while the variability of growth introduces change to
strategy and practices (examples of Core Ideology; principals of Judaism that held the Jewish
people together for centuries without a homeland, and the Declaration of Independence that has guided our country.)
5. Core Ideology consists of two parts: Core Values, and Core Purpose.
6. Core Values are a small set of timeless guiding principles that are independent of the
current environment, competitive requirements, or management fads (Great Companies
usually have between 3 &4, never more than 5). They must stand the test of time and
support the notion that if circumstances changed the value would not change. If you were
financially independent would you continue to live these core values? Would they be valid 100 years from now?
7. Core Purpose is the organization’s (and your individual) reason for being. It is the guiding
star on the horizon but never reached. The fact that purpose can never be fully realized means that an organization can never stop stimulating change and process.
8. Test your Core Purpose with: the five whys, “Why is this important?”, this will help you drill
down to the fundamental purpose of your organization, and if you were financially
independent what purpose would motivate you continue to work here?
9. Don’t confuse Core Purpose (vision)with Core Competencies (strategic and tactic.)
10. The second component of Vision is the envisioned future which consists of two parts: a 10-
30 year “Big Hairy Audacious Goal (BHAG)” plus a vivid description of what you will
experience when you achieve this goal-Examples of BHAG-NASA’s mission to put a man on
the moon as initiated by President John F. Kennedy ( an endearing mission that was carried out without JFK.)
11. There are 4 categories for BHAGs: target BHAGs, common enemy BHAGs, role model BHAGs, and internal-transformation BHAGs.
12. An envisioned future must have Vivid Description, a picture painting what it will be like
when the BHAG is realized. Passion, emotion, conviction are essential components of the Vivid Description.
13. When establishing the BHAG ask yourself “in 20 years; what would we love to see? What
will this company look like? What will it feel like to employees? What should it have achieved?
14. To create an effective envisioned future requires unreasonable confidence and commitment.
15. Vision provides the context for driving the primary engine of enduring companies. Building
a visionary company requires 1% vision and 99% alignment.
16. The first step is to recast your vision and mission into an effective context for building a
visionary company. The most important step is to have alignment behind your vision and
(I wrote this Whitepaper based on the Harvard Business Review article by James C. Collins and Jerry I. Porras, September-October 1996.)