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From Vision to Success

July 31, 2018 Doug Walker Culture, Vision, Why
                       Vision x Communication = Inspiration
                       Inspiration x Empowerment = Success
Two simple equations, both self-evident. So why do so few businesses move from survival to success? Let's look at these two equations in detail... 
Vision x Communication = Inspiration
Vision is the "WHY" that Simon Sinek talks about in his book "Start With Why". This is the grand, over-arching reason we do what we do, beyond fame or fortune. For Bill Gates at Microsoft, this was "A PC in every home and on every desk". The PC was actually just a means to a bigger vision, that of enabling people to reach their potential by giving them the right tools, allowing ordinary people to compete with corporations.
Bill Gates didn't keep his vision to himself. He proclaimed it inside and outside of Microsoft, and this, more than features of his fledgling operating system and software, inspired employees and customers alike to become loyal to the Microsoft brand. Without effective communication, Microsoft might have remained just another software company, despite the bold vision. Instead, those inspired by Gates' vision flocked to the company as employees and customers, helping to create one of the world's great business success stories.
In many ways Apple has been a fascinating contrast to Microsoft. Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak set out to "Challenge the status quo and think differently". Jobs was the marketing face of Apple, and he was hugely effective at communicating his message of uniqueness to both customers and employees.
This vision appeals viscerally to those who see themselves as rebels, disrupting the system through elegant simplicity and innovation. Apple's technologies aren't always the most innovative or powerful, but customers and employees are intensely loyal to the Apple brand anyway. While Apple doesn't have the market share enjoyed by Microsoft, it has nonetheless maintained a strong and significant presence.
For both Microsoft and Apple, a powerful vision, communicated well, created inspiration by "feeling right", a much-more basic response than an analytic conclusion based on facts or features. "Feeling right" motivates us intrinsically, making us willingly follow the leader who inspired us with his or her eloquent message.
Inspiration x Empowerment = Success
For both Microsoft and Apple, intense brand loyalty is exhibited by both customers and employees. Companies whose employees "feel right" about WHY their company exists invariably do better than those whose employees just do their jobs for a paycheck and a pat on the head.
Intrinsic motivation is much more powerful and persistent than extrinsic rewards. There is a caveat here though. Intrinsic motivation is additive to, not a replacement for, extrinsic rewards (compensation and working conditions). There is limited opportunity to intrinsically motivate employees whose extrinsic rewards are sub-par. Rather, intrinsic motivation is what distinguishes great employees from good employees. Good employees are fairly compensated. Great employees are too, but they are also intrinsically motivated (inspired) by the company's vision.
Empowerment, the last missing piece, is providing people with the means and authority to decide and act. Employees who are both inspired and empowered will actively search for and act on activities that are consistent with company vision.
They will speak up passionately if they believe activities are inconsistent with vision. They are also in less need of fences (formal policies and procedures) to keep them headed in the right direction. Inspired, empowered employees, serving customers personally committed to company vision, is a great recipe for success.
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