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Company growth starts when everyone sees and lives the company's vision and core values

Founder of the COO Alliance Cameron Herold explains the importance of vision and cultural alignment to accelerated company growth.

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"The company’s vision will become a magnet, pulling people towards the company, but also repelling the wrong people."
Cameron Herold, Founder, the COO Alliance

Speaking at the recent North America Leadership Conference, Cameron Herold, Founder of the COO Alliance and author of books consumed by business leaders including Richard Branson, highlighted the need for business leaders to have a "Vivid Vision TM" and to communicate this widely so that it becomes a mantra around which a strong company culture can grow. 

Using the analogy of someone building a new home, Cameron explained: “You are the CEO of that project, you don’t know how to do the electrics or plaster the walls, but you know what your home has to look like. You sit down with the contractors and give them drawings and sketches – the contractors go away and then return a few weeks later with blueprints and plans to make your vision come true. You then give your signed off blueprints to your contractors so they can get their employees to recreate your dream without ever talking to you.

A mission statement is not enough

Often leaders and entrepreneurs, as Cameron explained, have a very clear picture of what they want their company to look like three years from now, "but they probably haven’t told anyone."

To get everyone in the company on the same page, Cameron suggested the leader(s) should write what he called a "Vivid Vision TM", a longer version (4-5 pages) of the typical short mission statement: “It should describe your company in vivid detail three years from today. Your intuition as CEO or business owner is tied to your vision- your employees need to have the same vision and intuition.”

Creating your vision

To create this vision, Cameron suggested the entire organizational chart needs to be 'mind mapped', then each functional area of the business described with a handful of bullet points, for example, operations, IT, finance, marketing and sales. Then the author(s) should write down what customers are saying about the business, what the media and employees are saying, and describe the KPIs and metrics and the company culture. This draft should then be "given to a writer who can polish it and make it pop off the page."

Culture as a magnet for attracting 'A' players and a catalyst for growth

According to Cameron, the Vivid Vision TM should become a magnet, pulling people towards the company, but also repelling the wrong people: "You write this to see who buys in.”

Alignment around this vision is, explained Cameron, where your company culture starts: "And when everyone sees what you see, this is where growth starts." In Cameron's view, holding people accountable and having to manage them means they are not aligned: “Everyone needs to understand how to make a few of the sentences in the Vivid Vision come true.”

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You have to communicate the vision

Cameron explained that introducing a Vivid Vision TM is not easy and the first few months can be agonizing as those close to you, including key advisors, might not stand up and join in.

However, Cameron explained that the more you communicate it, the more people will join in and get excited about it: 

“You have to identify and remove the negative cultural cancers from your organization as they won’t join in. Once your ideas stick and you get alignment, your company can, as Jim Collins once said, go from ‘good to great’.”
Cameron Herold

It takes guts to be a follower and lead the dance!

Cameron showed a video of a dance at a festival to illustrate how a leader may have to risk ridicule when launching a vision, but if others see what he sees, then everyone (or at least most people) will get up and join in and share the vision:

The role of the CEO, according to Cameron, is to be the 'Chief Energizing Officer', to stir the cooler, to grow the culture, or the 'cult'.

The importance of great people to a great culture

To build a truly amazing organization, Cameron advised that you have to bring the right people in: “As Jim Collins said, you need to get the right people on the bus, the wrong people off the bus, and everybody in the right seats.”

Cameron stated very clearly: 

“In an organization, your A players are your racehorses, your B players are your workhorses and your C players have to go to the glue factory.”

Interested in more articles like this one?

In the next couple of weeks, we will be publishing a series of articles from Cameron Herold's presentation at the 2018 North America Leadership Conference in Scottsdale - watch this space!