Vision across the organisation

I am sure you well remember the day. On 25 May 1961, President John F. Kennedy announced to a joint session of Congress that an American would land safely on the moon before the end of the decade. Ambitious and visionary. A year later, JFK was touring NASA’s headquarters. While touring the facility, the President’s entourage encountered a man mopping the floor in one of the hallways. The President stopped to shake his hand and asked what he did at NASA. The janitor proudly answered the President, saying, “Sir, I’m helping to put a man on the moon!”

To inspire that level of vision across an entire organisation is incredible – but for you to be truly successful, you need to ensure that everyone knows and believes in the vision for the company. This can inspire and motivate your entire team beyond your wildest dreams.

At the other end of the spectrum, I well remember a Microsoft conference I attended in Boston in 2006. It was the first time we had seen the new COO of Microsoft, Kevin Turner. He joined Microsoft in August 2005 and there was a lot of noise made about the fact that Microsoft had lured him away from Wal-Mart, where he managed the largest customer database on the planet and had more individuals on his database than the IRS. Apparently, Steve Balmer courted Kevin for several years and couldn’t convince him to work with him. The offer of money and then more money didn’t do it for him. Finally, Kevin explained to the audience, that he agreed to join Microsoft after an interview with Bill Gates when Bill said, “We really hope you want to come change the world with us.” I almost had tears in my eyes sitting in the audience listening to it. The impact was only reduced when I later learned that the inspiring statement from Bill came with a handshake for a US$7M sign-on fee!

In a Managed Services business, there are some components that are a little boring. There can be some repetitive parts or some difficult problems to deal with. It is absolutely essential that every member of your team understands what you are trying to do and understands the vision for the organisation. Then, just like the janitor at NASA, no matter how tedious the individual job, each staff member will see their task as contributing to the greater vision of the organisation. It would seem obvious that I would also recommend an automation tool to remove as many tedious tasks as possible but, in any job, there will still be some components that are not riveting and exciting. It is at these times that believing in the mission is essential.

Having said that, it is also important that each individual staff member can bring their own special mojo to it. Starbucks, for example, have an instruction to their staff of being welcoming. They don’t instruct how wide to smile or how large to smile or what to say. They simply tell their staff to be ‘welcoming’. They allow their employees to determine how to interpret that directive. They don’t want to create robots – just people who welcome every customer.

As you walk around your business today, ask each staff member what the company vision is (I am assuming you have one). Each staff member should be able to quote the vision without hesitation and believe in it wholeheartedly. If most of your staff look at you blankly, then you have some easy work to do to help inspire all of your staff.

Tell me your favourite inspirational story at

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