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26 min read

Episode 14: Does your Business need a Vision?

Episode 14: Does your Business need a Vision?

In this episode of The SME Growth Podcast, Dave Parry and Richard Buckle discuss the concept of a business vision. Learn more about the benefits to your SME for having a vision and how a vision can influence your business culture. They also cover whether every business needs a vision or not.

Get the most from this episode in the form that works best for you: watch the episode, read the transcript or access further resources mentioned in the episode. 


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REad the transcript

Please note: Whilst all transcripts are double checked for accuracy, they are transcribed via Otter.AI so may contain errors.

David Parry 00:57

So hello, you're listening to The SME Growth Podcast. I'm David Parry from Wellmeadow and with me as ever is the indomitable, Richard Buckle.

Richard Buckle 01:27

Good morning. I will apologise my voice first off.

David Parry 00:57

Yes. Thank you very much, Steve. Thank you very much for the feedback. And we know there are a few other regular listeners as well that give us some feedback or positive and we're glad you're enjoying the podcasts. So talking of which we'll do another one. Yes. So hello, you're listening to The SME Growth Podcast. I'm David Perry from Wellmeadow and with me as ever is the indomitable, Richard Buckle.

Richard Buckle 01:27

Good morning. I will apologise my voice first off.

David Parry 01:31

It's quite gravelly.

Richard Buckle 01:31

It is quite gravelly today, like I should be in a jazz band.

David Parry 01:35

Normally, I've got the low voice. You got it this week. So yeah, so you're providing bass end cover for our little duet. So thanks for joining us. Here we go again. And this week's subject we've been meaning to do this for a number of weeks, actually, haven't we? We've had other subjects crop up and take its place in the queue. But this week, we're doing vision. What is a vision? How do you get one is important, all that sort of stuff. And it's often talked about in businesses in very general terms. But I think if you were to ask 10 directors, what our vision is, you'd end up with 11 answers is not, there's no common understanding of it isn't there? So we're going to cover a bit of that talk about what it is. And we do quite a bit of work with clients that we helping them 

Richard Buckle 02:18

Yeah, I think it's it's often kind of miss misconstrued a vision may be seen as a bit of fluff that people don't really need. It's that kind of fluffy bit where everyone sits in a room and does things with post it notes and stuff like that. But I think

David Parry 02:32

often in a hotel somewhere with an evening stay over people remember more the meal and the drinks afterwards.

Richard Buckle 02:38

And scarred by the experience, but I think we our view would be that a vision is absolutely critical to any business really, isn't it? Regardless of its size,

David Parry 02:50

you got to know where you're going well, you know, question, do you need to know where you're going? We would argue you do if you don't know what you're doing drifting 

Richard Buckle 02:58

drifting. And I suppose you may you may get lucky and you may rise with the tide or something. But if you wish to, you know, I suppose, put your your business ambitions into the hands of fate as it were?

David Parry 03:11

Well, I suppose it comes down to whether you think you're driving the business or whether it's driving you and your we know businesses that have been lucky, great. They've never thought about doing a vision probably laugh at the idea of it, actually. And they're still successful. So it's not as if there's a one to one relationship here those businesses with a clear vision, successful, all sorts of other ways of being successful, largely down to luck, maybe, but it certainly increases your chances.

Richard Buckle 03:36

Absolutely. So what do we, when we're talking about vision, should we try and just define what we mean?

David Parry 03:41

Well, let's go through the various different words, I hear banded around and you come up with you tell me how you see these. And I see, I heard some horror stories from clients. That's what they but vision, mission, strategy, they're probably the three ones that get bundled together, and you get values in there as well. But they're the probably the three main ones on there. So what's the difference between what's the use of each of those terms, vision, mission and strategy? So how do you think about vision?

Richard Buckle 04:07

So vision is, in its most basic form, where are we going? Yeah, that's, that's a, it's a destination, it's a future state as it were.

David Parry 04:18

And it's got to be somewhere more than just around the corner in terms of, you know, navigational metaphors, it's more your North Star is somewhere a long way away, that actually doesn't shift, even if you move around the North Star still in the same place. 

Richard Buckle 04:32

And then the mission is kind of more what is it that we do? 

David Parry 04:37

What do we do? That's a bit mixed up with purpose as well, which we hear a bit about

Richard Buckle 04:42

Purpose, maybe a bit more? Why are we doing it? .

David Parry 04:46

But you hear people talking about our mission statement, and then they say something's a bit more vision-y. So I'm not sure if this is an interpretation of how some American firms treat it or just how big firms do their stuff. But for me, mission is very good, but it's less important for me than vision and strategies. Yeah, you got to know what you doing, what's your business model.

Richard Buckle 05:04

Maybe stretching it a little bit. But maybe the mission to me seems a little bit more like, if you go on a mission, it's almost a bit more short term. But that's what we're doing. Whereas the vision is much more. We're looking at the horizon, we're looking

David Parry 05:18

lifelong. Okay, so where's strategy fit into all that?

Richard Buckle 05:22

Well, strategy is, how do we get there?

David Parry 05:25

Yeah. So that pair of where we're going, how do we get there for vision or strategy? Does it for me whenever I'm trying to explain to group and, you know, if they all come in with different understandings, just getting everybody on the same page is useful to start with? Isn't it just, if we're going to talk about these words

Richard Buckle 05:39

They need to be defined. Otherwise, I think where you see that lack of definition, it's very hard to align people. And I think that's another kind of purpose of a vision is to should probably shouldn't say purpose of visitors using the terms. But a vision is something that enables an organisation to align people. So you've got to have that clarity over your terms. Otherwise, even if it's just within your organisation.

David Parry 06:08

And if it's well understood, and well used, it will crop up, we'll cover this later on, they'll crop up in lots of different places in terms of how you make business decisions. And and you could almost imagine if you've got this work done, well, then in a board meeting, perhaps or just on the shop floor, we're having a debate about something. If it's not clear which way you should go, then one of the ways out of that indecision would be to refer to division. Yeah, what does that get us there? Is that a good thing for this Northstar? Get us closer?

Richard Buckle 06:36

And that's why I think it moves away from that because they do it's not fluff. It's not something that so once a year, annual Vision setting meeting that everybody 

David Parry 06:46

You hear about strategy away days, you don't often hear about a vision or idea you don't come up with a new one every year.

Richard Buckle 06:51

But it's it's that if it becomes part of the DNA of the organisation, it's really, people really buy into it and engage with it, that it actually affects everything from the boardroom to the shop floor and the way that the company works.

David Parry 07:06

And it's actually harmful to be tweaking it all the time and thinking about a different way of expressing it, because it takes years for these vision, understandings to get well embedded in an organisation. Imagine people have been recruited, knowing that that's what the vision is, and then it changes.

Richard Buckle 07:22

It becomes part of the culture. Which is a whole other podcast series, probably.

David Parry 07:28

Yeah, and culture eats strategy for breakfast.

Richard Buckle 07:30

Absolutely. And that's, that's where we talking about vision. It's, it's a leadership responsibility.

David Parry 07:37

Yes, and I don't think you're putting it too seriously on that. You mentioned that the other day, and I think that is really important for leaders listening to this, that this is part of your job, you know, you may think your job is to go out and win the next bit of work and look after the team and manage the finances. But the most important bit is the leadership, isn't it? 

Richard Buckle 07:55

Absolutely. I mean, if, if people there's a proverb, often quote that says, you know, without a vision, the people perish. And it's it's leadership's role, to provide that vision. And to live in a way that's authentic in line with it

David Parry 08:15

It gives life meaning, gives hope, all sorts of things.

Richard Buckle 08:17

So it's, so those is really critical, I think, for people who are in that position, to actually be clear about what their vision is. And to live it out.

David Parry 08:27

And talking about the leadership role, something that several of our clients will know I've quoted before, and it was quoted to me when I was very young, and Roy, if you're listening, you pass this on to me, is that a leader only really has two jobs, create a vision, build a team. And if you can take those two off as a leader, then the second of those two things, means you don't have to do anything else in more detail. You build a team, but you've got to tell them where they're going. So create a vision build a team.

Richard Buckle 08:55

So how would that maybe it build the team? How does that play out in a day to day? How does the vision link into that building the team? 

David Parry 09:04

Well, it starts with recruitment, if you take the whole lifecycle of how a team comes to be, and then the development and reviews and decisions that get taken within the business should all be referring back to it even to the point where if somebody is actively working against the vision, they no longer belong on the bus and you know, they need to be found a birth somewhere else. So I think it forms over a longish period of time that those that buy into the vision, understand and want to get there are the ones that you keep around you.

Richard Buckle 09:35

Just to be clear, because we've done a recruitment video recently. We have part of our vision does not necessarily involve dressing up in inflatable cowboy suits.

David Parry 09:45

Although if anybody likes to have a little bit of fun

Richard Buckle 09:49

Yeah, it's about authentic vulnerability and I'll leave it at that 

David Parry 09:54

Very good and you came across very well on that. I'm sure several people well by now seen our very famous recruitment video. It's done its rounds on LinkedIn a number of times. If you haven't gone check it out. Exactly. So what do we use it for? Then? What are the sort of two main areas as opposed to a vision is useful for from us? Isn't it? Is it a bit of in the now? Yeah. And there's about where we're going to. So we've talked a bit about the way we're going to the north start stuff, there's a bit of the in the now as well, which is around that team sort of thing.

Richard Buckle 10:22

Yeah, so around recruitment that you just mentioned, and we just talked about. So I guess we'll get onto this in a little bit about what makes up a vision. But partly, it's your values, those sorts of things. So bringing that into your recruitment, having the having an understanding of that. And also knowing where you know, knowing where you want to go as a business is, is quite an important thing to say to new recruits. 

David Parry 10:44

I think more so now, or at least this is what we're told, you know, that the generation is going into the workplace. Now, I'm much more aware than I certainly was when I went into the workplace, read about you. But they asked, What's the point of this company? Why does it deserve to exist? Is this something I want to hitch my career up to for a few years or longer? You know, they're asking very different questions than I would have done.

Richard Buckle 11:06

More purpose led maybe, want to get some sense of it's not just about financial reward, it's about bettering themselves bettering the community, the planet, all those sorts of things. And I think it also then, if it's, if it's about it links into recruitment, then it links into appraisals. So how are you then measuring that kind of the vision can be used as a way of measuring how well someone's aligning to organisational goals 

David Parry 11:38

Certainly with the elements of the vision, which we'll come on to in a minute with values and that sort of thing?

Richard Buckle 11:43

I think ultimately, as well, decision making. Yeah, you have to have a framework to make decisions in 

David Parry 11:49

And asking that question, does this decision going one way or the other, get us closer to achieving the vision or not? And sometimes you realise actually, it's quite trivial. And we're spending too much time worrying about decision that won't actually impact the vision at all. So just make a decision move on. Now, I'm presuming that's preserving the core, if you like, of the business. But then there's, there's that bit about stimulating progress to the place you want to get to and we need to make sure that the vision isn't left in isolation, there's no point having a vision, put it on a sign on the wall, almost one of my pet hates, actually is a vision statement on the wall in a building, if you're going to put it on the wall, then already you've lost, right? Because people should just know it should be woven through the fabric of the building. But it can't stand in isolation, however you communicate it, it's got to lead on to the strategy.

Richard Buckle 12:41

You can't really have a strategy without knowing where you're going. If you don't, if you don't have a destination, how you're going to get there?

David Parry 12:48

Yeah, I liken it to make sure the car is pointing in the right direction before you put your foot on the accelerator. You know, people who are very action oriented love putting their foot on the accelerator, pretty might be pointing the wrong way. Right. So then what is the right way, even you never got a map.

Richard Buckle 13:01

And I think as well as a vision as a way of, you've got to, you've got to have some way, the business of measuring accomplishment and measuring progress. And a vision can actually be that scale, 

David Parry 13:13

where you say, you've got to have that. And we would certainly advocate that. But it's amazing how many businesses don't they just measure their progress every year on? Did we make any money? Or maybe some market share? Perhaps. But how many of them take the time and allow themselves to take the time stand back and say, actually, on a 10 year timescale? Are we getting where we wanted to get to? Are we getting better? are we achieving slowly the thing that we set out to achieve? And lots of people have almost got stuck in a rut of coming to work every day journeying today into a different version of yesterday, but broadly the same and opening their emails and getting on with it, answering the phone doing the to do list, you know, it's it's quite difficult actually, to as a leader, especially stand back and allow yourself give yourself permission to not do that email us that phone call do that thing. But to think, or even to get into small group and think there's almost a stigma attached to it, where if directors are in a huddle somewhere, they feel guilty that oh, I'm not doing my job now. Well, actually, you are talking about where you're going, what's going on around you and what's our what are the decisions we're going to take to navigate through that? That's that's the leaders job. Right. Yeah.

Richard Buckle 14:20

The Eisenhower Matrix, urgent, important? The important things always get topped by the urgent things.

David Parry 14:31

I think we confer urgency as a label on things that aren't really urgent. You know, that email that's just arrived, for some reason always seems in your mind to be more deserving of your attention than the one that you left from yesterday, because it was going to take a bit longer. There's this this this instinct, I need to splat the rat, you know, do the thing that's just happened. And you lose lose perspective a little bit. So take that onto an even larger scale. What about that chat we had a year ago which said we were going to try and achieve this by a year's time. Whenever we ever reflected on on that discussion and made sure.

Richard Buckle 15:01

Well, I suppose we find that quite a few of these conversations end up happening in the pub as well.

David Parry 15:06

Yeah, there's nothing wrong. If that's your, you know, your comfortable place, it may be on a, on a walk or a bike ride, or it could be anywhere you're doing yoga session, you know, these inspiration comes in many forms in different places for different people.

Richard Buckle 15:20

I mean, we did try that a bit different, a lot of the walking meetings and, you know, actually, it's different ways of trying to carve out that time to really think about,

David Parry 15:31

Well, that's triggered another thought, because this idea of having the away day, and I've talked about the fact that you don't have a vision away every year, but you do have perhaps a strategy one, and you refer to the vision or the beginning, remind yourselves of it, and so on. And taking yourselves physically away from the space where you work every day has got quite a marked effect, I see it whenever we run workshops with teams, especially if we're familiar with working with them in board meetings, where they tend to be in familiar surroundings, behaviour does change, you take away the comfort blanket of knowing how to get the next cup of tea, where the loos are, who sits where around the table, you know, all those habits we fall into, break that apart, go somewhere new. And don't keep going to the same place every every time you do one of these things, try and find something different. And our friend, Archie does this and does outdoor activity exercises, and gets his teams to go and do that to great effect.

Richard Buckle 16:22

And try I mean, we've tried things like like the Lego stuff as well, to get a load of Lego. And you can get people that will come in facilitate sessions.

David Parry 16:31

David Hall from the Creativity Centre. Yeah, he's a great facilitator.

Richard Buckle 16:35

And just kind of play, you know, that whole kind of play thing to come up with. And again, it feels a little bit wrong that you should be doing these types of things are supposed to be serious about business and all this. But there's been some, I remember one story about I think it was Lifevests or something that someone that worked for RNLI was playing with Lego and worked out that using the Lego that why couldn't they find people and it was because the waves were too high to see the little head on the Lego thing that he'd made. And they just worked out, well. Maybe we could put something like GPS in every lifevest something that was some type of new idea, or new ideas just by playing with Lego and it's, it's amazing.

David Parry 17:15

Another podcast and creative thinking we should get Dave to talk about it.

Richard Buckle 17:20

So talking about vision, what makes a good one?

David Parry 17:23

Well, I always put number one on the list. It's got to be inspirational. Because even there's other things on that list, which we'll come to, if people don't hear it and think yes, great, brilliant. That's me. I want to be part of that. Then no matter how well defined and and remembered it is, it's a waste of time time, isn't it? Yeah, if our vision is to stay right, where we are doing exactly what we do today, and no one's gonna grow. You may remember that, but it's not particularly inspirational.

Richard Buckle 17:49

It's got to motivate people, hasn't it it got to motivate people in the right in the right way.

David Parry 17:53

We've got that Northstar, you've got to want to get to it. If you've chosen a North Star that people want to run away from, it's not going to be very helpful for you.

Richard Buckle 18:00

And it's got to be the sort of thing that people want to I can't remember what the show my ignorance of literature here. I think it's a King Lear or something where they stand shouting into the sea or something and someone says something to me, and it's all well and good kind of shout, I'm paraphrasing it. Obviously, this isn't Shakespeare. It's all well and good shouting, but when you shout, does anybody follow type of thing? And is that is that thing? Is that is that emphasis on, well, if you are putting something out there as a vision, is it the sort of thing that people actually want to engage with and come along with? Because otherwise,

David Parry 18:37

Well, you've got to be ready to follow. There's that relationship of leadership and fellowships. So it's got to be motivational, as you say, inspirational, it's got to be easy to understand. And remember, otherwise, it's not gonna get any oxygen is it's got to be used frequently enough so that you help people remember it. 

Richard Buckle 18:55

So yeah, so that's, it's gonna lead into communication. How do you how do you communicate the vision? Is it easy to communicate? Is the vision so complicated and convoluted that no one can understand it unless they've spent all year in the boardroom? Thinking about it.

David Parry 19:10

And we see some absolute horrors, we saw one yesterday on screen, which was a sentence which explained it was probably what they thought was a vision statement. But it didn't act as vision, was more of a slogan, I think, yeah. And people sort of think, oh, we need a vision statement, you know, to be the best supplier of widgets in the western Christendom, or whatever their region is. There's not really a vision, is it more of a marketing strapline or whatever it may be. So there are some components, which I think we should probably come on to now to break this down into a way of describing a vision so that it can be useful and more easily remembered, perhaps, and more desirable.

Richard Buckle 19:49

So there's different I suppose there are, say obviously, different ways that you can start to look at a vision, 

David Parry 19:56

Lots of models out there, Google it, and you'll have hundreds 

Richard Buckle 20:00

The one that we've kind of rested on having looked at different ones is the Collins-Porras. So Jim Collins and Joe Porras, who did an awful lot of work in the 90s, looking at different companies, so Good Company Bad Company. Research backed what actually made successful companies successful. And one of the key components that they found was clear vision

David Parry 20:28

They wrote it up in what is now the famous Harvard Business Review article HBR article, and you can still get it online, I managed to download the PDF of it the other day, it's not behind a gate, you know, with the email address thing, you'd have to pay for it. And I know, it's, it's probably, you could think of it as being a bit dated now, because we're coming up for me 25/26 years old, but actually, it's, it's as true. Now as it as it was then, like a vision should be I suppose so. And it's a reasonably good framework, you know, why should it go out of date?

Richard Buckle 20:57

I read it recently. And, yes, they're referring to, you know, Sony in the 80s, or something, or whatever. But it doesn't really matter, I don't think because what they were trying to do is the same as what businesses today are trying to do. It's just maybe the context has changed.

David Parry 21:18

Let's just summarise broadly what they were trying to do. And then we can go into a bit more depth. But on the whole, I tried to break down this very nebulous view of what our vision is into at least two key parts. Yeah, I didn't, I wanted to make it easier to understand. And you see this depicted, if you did an image search on the current Collins-Porras model, you'll see that

Richard Buckle 21:36

So you've got a core ideology, and an envision future.

David Parry 21:42

Which is what we said earlier about the purpose of having the vision anyway, you want to be able to preserve the core of what you have now, which is that the ideology bit, and that envisioning the future is making sure that you're stimulating progress towards some Nirvana, some some other place that you've decided is better than where you are now.

Richard Buckle 22:01

And so the core ideology, then if we just maybe focus on that for a little bit is, is made up of two components. So one of those is the values.

David Parry 22:09

Yeah. And interestingly, when I do workshops, and I asked people to start telling me what their current vision is, values are almost always what comes up first. Yeah, people list values. And it's great with the Collins-Porras model to be able to say, Yeah, I've got a place to put those, they're really important there. They're one quarter of how we describe our vision, so let's pop those in there. But then people realise that just listing values isn't going to be the whole, but they have a place, I think there's

Richard Buckle 22:35

a point there that that values are discovered, they're actually part of your organisational DNA, it's not something that's aspirational, as it were, you've got to be honest about what your values are, 

David Parry 22:47

yes, if you try and treat that as the North Star, let's have a different value today, then good luck with that, you know, you're trying to change ingrained behaviours, you have a set of values as an organisation, 

Richard Buckle 22:56

because there is a place within the Collins-Porras model for that kind of aspirational future thinking bit. But the values bit is, you know, you should really not have maybe like three to five values is where you're gonna get your sweet spot. If you've got a list of 20 values, you're some of those are going to be core, really what you want to nail down to is like, if this cost us money, we would still do this thing. Yeah, because it's so ingrained in our psyche as an organisation,

David Parry 23:22

It's got to be a memorable again, you got to use them in appraisals, in recruitment, and so on, with 20 you're Never going to remember them plus the fact there's a chance they'll contradict one another if you're not careful.

Richard Buckle 23:30

I do remember once doing something on this where we wanted to come up with the values. And it was kind of a bit like, okay, let's just find a word, what it was they reach or something, then you try and match the values into the acronym Yeah, so you've got your values as core ideology, but then also purpose.

David Parry 23:54

Now we talked about purpose earlier on, didn't we in the context of it's a bit more involved now is talked about a lot more, what is the purpose of your company? And it's probably fair to say 10 years ago, companies didn't really dwell too much on what their purpose was, unless they followed the Collins Boris model from the 90s. Of course, they're more worried about vision in terms of just let's put a number on it. Let's just say how big are we going to be and have done with it or which markets are we going to be in? But I think recruits these days have got every right to ask what is the purpose? And leaders of a company have got every duty to answer that question? Why are we here? If we're just another taxi company in town or another hairdressers? Do we deserve to exist? Because someone else could come in and do this? You know, what are we adding to the sum of human achievement or knowledge by just doing the same as everybody else? Let's let's set our stall out to do it differently in a in a better way.

Richard Buckle 24:42

Do we think that it's harder for maybe SMEs maybe particularly,

David Parry 24:47

It is really really hard? And every SME is going to really struggle with this part. And because especially when you quote examples to try and get the creative juices going there will be company once and they're going to be because that's companies that people We'll recognise but you know, with Nike their their purpose, if you like, is to make everybody an athlete with their whole just do it mantra that's great for them. You know SpaceX wants to make humans a multiplanetary species, you know that pretty big stuff. Google wants to democratise information in Microsoft wants to make everybody access all the tools they need to do their work. eBay wants to make everybody a seller. You know, these are all great, lofty goals. And you can buy into that. If you're a cause based organisation like Greenpeace or a political party, you can bind to that purpose very easily. Soon as you shrink that down to, you know, the, the lawyer around the corner or the machine shop down the road, or whatever your business is. It's easy to fall into the trap, but that's not for us. You know, that's what big companies do. We're just a little thing getting on with our own. Yeah, it doesn't have to be that way. You can still set out to do it differently, better or inspiring?

Richard Buckle 25:52

Yeah, I suppose its base level, you could say our purpose is to provide employment for the local community.

David Parry 25:58

That drives some people but some don't believe they even they just regard employment as a resource to get the job done. But some very strongly driven by that. And we've got a client, haven't we that that came up in a strategy session said, Actually, we are a Midlands based manufacturer, we know we could outsource all of our manufacturing to either Eastern Europe or Far East. But that's not what we're about. We're very much got roots in the in the Midlands, and we want to have a business here that employs the skills that we've developed over many decades. So that's the two components then of the core ideology, you got the the values bit, which often comes up first, and then the purpose bit. So that's the first half. So it's the second half.

Richard Buckle 26:40

The second half is more about the Envision, envision, 

David Parry 26:43

Easy for you to say!

Richard Buckle 26:45

It's very hard for the cold to say that the envisioned future. So that's made up of two parts. So you've got a BHAG. So big, hairy, audacious goal,

David Parry 26:55

less polite, for those like 

Richard Buckle 26:58

And then the vivid description. Yeah. So the BHAG is like a goal that you're this should be a stretch, it should be a 10 to 20 year kind of

David Parry 27:12

Not the same as your five year goal, or this next year's budget as it as it's got to be something that's just over the horizon. Really,

Richard Buckle 27:18

Almost like, not quite shoot for the moon, you might hit the ceiling. But it's a, it's got to be something that's going to kind of push you beyond your current state

David Parry 27:29

more. It's more achievable than the overarching vision, which could be an North star, again, up in the sky, but it's the biggest mountain you can see on the way there. Yeah, you know, so it's still something you need to plan for over 10 years or more. Yeah, so that's your, your BHAG big, hairy, audacious goal. And often that's described with numbers, that's probably the one area that tends to have numbers in it more than the other ones, or you do some of the rows.

Richard Buckle 27:55

And then the vivid description, is the way that you would kind of paint a picture with words of what that future state looks like. So in 20 years time, and this is this is the bit that I think is great. I say to people as if you were in the pub talking to someone, or you're talking to your friends about what this is going to look like, how do you describe it? It can also be useful to try and link it in to say, well, we want our customer service to be like John Lewis or something. Pick an example of someone who does, we want to be as innovative as Apple or something cool.

David Parry 28:28

Give it a label, use metaphors. And for me, this is where all of the three previous sections really come together. Because you're using your storytelling skills, who actually paint a verbal picture, and have tried with artists trying to actually come up with a physical picture, don't go there is flippin difficult. But verbal pictures, do the job, come up with those metaphors, those explanations and bring it all together. And usually they're sufficiently different from where you are today. If you were to then ask people to describe the as is versus the to be that gap between the two is the ideal launching point to the next step in the process, which is the strategy, how do we get from where we are to this now vivid description of where we want to be, which embodies the BHAG the purpose and the values on the way.

Richard Buckle 29:12

And I think that's where you can put aspirational. So I mean, we talked about values, and we talked about, you know, maybe sometimes you get aspirational values that aren't actually reflective of what's in the business. That's where the vivid description is where those things can be parked. So take innovation, because that's kind of an overused word. But that could be something that maybe is not part of your organisation at the moment, but that's where you want to move to. And okay, so, in the future, the next 20 years, we want to be more innovative or the most innovative in our market. Okay, well, that envision future then starts to talk about, well, how are we going to recruit people? How are we going to change the culture? How are we going to 

David Parry 29:50

encourage innovation risk taking analysis,

Richard Buckle 29:53

and I have even in some cases, put KPIs against every sentence. That vivid description So for example, we don't want to ever have to use a, we don't want to have to ever use a recruitment agency to get a candidate

David Parry 30:09

Because we've got a queue at the door!

Richard Buckle 30:10

Well you can measure that quite easily. You can measure some of these other things that you know, employee engagement or whatever it is that we're doing. So that's, you can use that vivid description as a way It's more actionable, is people can relate to that. And that's, as I say, where it's a great launch point into the strategy bit. Yeah, yeah, good. So that's a bit of a tour de force really, of one of the models, the one that we use more of, we use it in loads of clients often repeated every year, not to rehash the vision, but to remind people of it. And then to use that for the strategy session, which is great. Probably worth just closing out on a little reflection in case people are asking about. So what are yours then? Has Wellmeadow done this on itself? Well, of course we have. Yeah. Do you want to? Should we quickly run through that? What the four things broadly speaking look like for us? Yeah. So we've got four values

David Parry 31:00

be well defined there on our website, they're used during our recruitment and appraisals. Have we got any purpose? 

Richard Buckle 31:06

Have we got got purpose. questionable? Yes, we do. We, our purpose is really to build things of lasting value.

David Parry 31:13

And it's interesting, we we came up with that when we first formed the company 13 years ago, and it probably existed before that in our previous company as well. And it's quite deep seated. I think we've referred to stood the test of time. Yeah, we've referred to that over and over again. And it is what keeps pulling us back to why do we do what we do? We're not transactional.

Richard Buckle 31:33

It is applicable to shareholders, it's applicable to employees, it's applicable to clients wherever we go, we want to get things

David Parry 31:43

it's not a here today gone tomorrow, a quick fix. It's something that really is worth putting some effort into, because it's going to be around for a long time. So that's our purpose. BHAG,, I think it's fair to say we've got a fairly clearly defined in our heads anyway, what that what the BHAG is and the slices of that get taken off into our targets for each year. But we've got a pretty audacious set of goals for our business that we write down. And then the vivid description. I think we talked about this probably the most, out of all of the bits.

Richard Buckle 32:15

Yeah, I think probably part of that is we've invested in their whole office infrastructure that we've got, as a way of, you know, kind of trying to make it a better place to work and encourage people more creative. So you may have seen some of our things on our office, refit that we did and that was around that was part of the vivid description of

David Parry 32:38

It's vivid you can bring it to life very visually, I can't do the office environment. But even how we structure our business, how we win work, you know, how we're going to recruit in the future, what the size of the team will be, you know, we've described that fairly lucidly vividly if you like, I think that that is therefore being very useful for us as it drives us forward. We know instinctively, I think whether something is the right thing to do

Richard Buckle 33:00

The annual ski trip

David Parry 33:01

The annual ski trip in the past been on that description for a few years. Yeah, we're getting there. Please note to recruits If you like skiing, this is the place to go to Well, there we go. I thought it was important to finish off that sort of description of the tool in very generic terms with something a bit more practical. I think that's all we've got time for it's one of our longer ones today. This we could probably have gone on for another half an hour on that. So you've been listening to The SME Growth Podcast from Wellmeadow. Please subscribe, like, share our podcast from wherever you get your podcasts and tell your business friends that were here, and that were worth a listen. And until next time, cheerio. Good luck with your business.


Further resources

Watch the Wellmeadow recruitment video and learn more about our creation process here.

Download our free Collins-Porras worksheet.

Collins Porras vision framework


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