In growth firms, there’s a push to get remarkable results! However, it can be challenging to stay focused on a longer-term vision – or navigate a powerful strategy to reach those goals year after year.
Why? Because many leadership teams (perhaps even MOST leadership teams) get bogged down tackling day-to-day problems like staffing constraints, customer service issues, and delivery snafus, to name a few. It takes “visionary leadership” to nurture a strategic shared vision of greatness that everyone in your culture understands and embraces.
Crafting a Shared Vision – the Ari Weinzweig Way
Ari Weinzweig is co-founder of the world-famous Zingerman’s community of businesses in Ann Arbor, Michigan. With over $78M in annual revenue today, INC magazine once called Zingerman’s The Coolest Small Business in America, where MBAs from the University of Michigan choose to continue to work and thrive.
I recommend your executive leaders read and implement what is taught in Ari’s pamphlet, The Story of Visioning at Zingerman’s–Four Visions, Forty Years, and a Positive Look Towards the Future, available from ZingermansPress.com.
His method for crafting a shared vision is powerful, and transformational. “An inspiring, strategically sound vision leads the way to greatness” is what Ari has taught me and my clients, many of whom have benefited from Ari’s books and his proven system you can apply in your next annual planning event.
Of particular importance in Ari’s system is understanding the 3 reasons why your executive leadership team needs to learn how to craft a vision of greatness. This is a powerful model for resetting your long-term, Big Hairy Audacious Goals (BHAG), the concept from Jim Collins, author of Good to Great. This resource from Ari is a powerful tool to help you bring your BHAG alive for your culture.
Magnetizing Your Culture
The power of crafting a shared vision of greatness, that is easy to communicate and embraced by everyone in cultures that work is this, according to Ari: “People do their best work when they’re part of a great organization.” Sounds simple and obvious, right? Easier said than done.
This philosophy is further reinforced by Richard Boyatzis in his longitudinal research at Case Western Reserve University. His research shows that when there is a clear, compelling vision of an ideal future state, a new neural network is established. This new mindset is called the Positive Emotional Attractor, or PEA, which helps individual and teams function at their best. In other words, by crafting an inspiriting narrative of the future ideal – a vision of greatness – your organization can dramatically motivate individuals, teams, and even your entire culture to move magnetically toward the vision, despite obstacles.
If you want your culture to be magnetized to have indominable will to achieve your long-term BHAG, use Ari’s method to write a narrative for employees to know their role in making a great company.
Mesmerizing Your Clients
Zingerman’s 2032 vision of greatness is a clearly written narrative of the future communities of his businesses that are focused on delivering Great Food and Great Service through Great Finance.
As a customer, I have yet to experience any interaction with any employee at the deli, roadhouse, coffee shop, bakery, or the dairy, where this relentless pursuit to deliver great customer service falls short. Even Ari himself can be seen at the Roadhouse, managing by “pouring water,” floating around and interacting with staff and customers to keep this purpose alive.
Monetizing Your Business
The future of business belongs to company cultures focused on existing for purpose and for profit. It is much more likely to scale up cash flow, profit, and business valuation, up to 10X moving your culture faster toward a 10X valuation of your business, with greater engagement by your employees. Indeed, when you read Ari’s book, you can see how the four visions of greatness delivered results. For many organizations, however, long-term strategies are too often merely “hopium” with some big goal that actually does not inspire the culture behavior and appears only to make the owners very rich.
Ari wrote this: “In each of the long-term visions we’ve written, the majority of what we’ve clearly identified has happened. It’s not always 100 percent as we wrote, but in spirit and content, what we described in the documents has come to pass. In each vision, too, a few things we talked about never played out. Overall, it seems reasonable to say that 70 to 80 percent of what we imagined was, ever imperfectly, implemented.”
That’s a pretty good record of successful visioning for greatness. And that’s why I have introduced Ari’s visioning “recipe” with several growth firms. Most recently, JJ Darr, President of Certa Pro Painters Indianapolis, brought his leadership team to our retreat center, Frog Hollow, to learn how to write their vision of greatness that inspires everyone in their culture. JJ said this: “Ari Weinzweig’s Story of Vision booklet which was a tremendous resource. Our leadership team has built an inspiring and compelling vision for the future of my business, that will guide everyone in our culture to accomplish all that our vision has brought forth.”
The Bottom Line:
In my work as a Certified Scaling Up Business Coach, when I begin collaborating with a new firm, I ask this question: “Can everyone articulate the company’s strategy to achieve a long-term, vision of greatness?” Commonly, the answer is a resounding (and frustrating) “No!”. That’s the bad news. The good news is that this roadblock to excellence can be overcome. Challenge your executive leaders to lose the lofty purpose statements, and instead make sure your vision of greatness brings to life your higher purpose and explain what you provide to your customers and why it matters.
So, if you and your team want to nurture effective leadership skills as you scale up your business – with everyone in your culture aligned with a vision of greatness – learn from Ari and his leaders. It is possible, with the right vision, the right strategy, and the right culture of communication and teamwork, to share a strategic vision of greatness – and execute a clear shared plan to make this vision a reality.
Ready to begin your quest to freedom and effective leadership? Take just 4 minutes to complete the Scaling Up Assessment to know where you stand regarding the 4 decisions you must get right when scaling up.
Dr. Craig Overmyer is co-founder of Cultures That Work, Inc. As a Scaling Up Certified Coach, Craig and the Cultures That Work, Inc. team educate, train and coach mid-market business owners and their executive teams. After 35 years’ experience, Craig is known for leveraging easy-to-follow tools for the executive team to lead their entire company to be aligned for sustainable growth.
Dr. Overmyer is also a Results Certified Coach, Barrett Values Centre Consultant, and a Master of Business Dynamics (MBD). He is the author of Accelerate Thru Conflict-The Missing Conversations Before It’s Too Late!
A good place to begin your quest to freedom and effective leadership skills is to take the Scaling Up Assessment.
Take 4 minutes to complete the Scaling Up Assessment to know where you stand concerning the 4 decisions you have to get right when scaling up.