« Ode To The Red Queen | Main | Fouroboros in Harrisburg »

May 21, 2004



Hey Jon,
I couldn't agree more. As a business owner I find that this is one of the key risks that comes with growth, and I'm damn well going to fight it. I think Tom Peters offers clever insight on this in Re-imagine! He stresses the need for PSF's (professional service functions) instead of business units, where each PSF will have that small business mentality, albeit lacking the important founders-drive...!


And then there are the larger companies that make it work. I'm busy with iew of Joe's Calloway's 'Becoming a Category of One' at the moment (late, I know), where he talks about Lenscrafters, a large company, where all the employees are an absolute part of the 'vision', and everything else kind of falls into place behind that. There does seem to be a way out for the large corporations who never took the growth risk into account from the start.

But, I suppose, its a bit of an 'Ambulance' vs 'Fence' thing.


I feel that, when interviewing for a job, you should really be interviewing the company itself, and see if it fits [u]you[/u], not the other way around. Read that somewhere...

Great post!


Have you ever read "The E-Myth" by Michael Gerber. His position is that relying upon your employees to share your vision is a mistake. While it's great to have people like that on the team, it's unreasonable to think that everyone will embrace the vision. Let's say we do everything right. We provide a clear focus. We reward them appropriately. Great. But the fact is that a large percentage of people consider a job a job. Mr. Gerber believes that a company's success will come from, in addition perhaps to doing the above "right" things, also creating a detailed manual, clearly identifying the procedures required for each and every position in the company.


Great post. You've described two kinds of employees; those who want to change the world and those who want to have a job. There's another type too-- the person who wants to work for a company that's trying to change the world. Each business needs a mix of all these and in varying degrees depending on what phase of growth they are in.

I see a lot of companies that could cultivate more of the visionary, world changing, work-loving people if they spend at little time educating their employees about their business, and the industry they compete in. It made a miraculous difference in the level of commitment in one start-up company I worked with. Everyone -- admins, sales, IT, engineering, accounting--got a two day course in how the industry was structured. Many businesses assume their employees know more than they do.

Ted Bozarth

Jon, good post. I think another key question is - how do you identify and engage the 5% of your employees who came in while that door was being held open that really do share the vision.

Think about how BMW reached out to its customers for the Mini launch - they showed preliminary info to them and engaged them in a "we are only sharing this w/you" type approach.

If these people can be identified and engaged, they would make a powerful vision & strategy network that could help communicate and translate the vision and strategy throughout the organization.

While it is true that even then, they may be doing this with people who just have jobs, the right incentive or profit-sharing plan must be in place to turn as many jobs as possible into careers or missions.


Great example, Susan: if you show rather than tell people they can be more powerful, aware people, you--as business owner/leader-- benefit. Take advantage of the fact that "nobody pays me to be a better me." The implicit bargain is become a better, more knowledgeable person, and please bring that person to work with you. Here.

Jonathan, see above. "Just a job" is the default position for many. But, not the ambition. People are a blob of clay, if you don't fashion them into beautiful things, or share how they can do it for themselves, they remain blobs. And they don't like being blobs--they imagine[d] better things for themselves. Take advantage of that soft, but powerful fact.

Ted. A "Business as a club" feeds the need of people to "belong". Effective brands/leaders (see why they belong in the same sentence?) do this all the time--Goleman's "Authoritative" leadership. Think of it as the "Prophet Quotient." You're not a CEO or a Brand, you're Moses.

Mighty fine post, Jon.

hugh macleod

Great post!

Question: "Why aren't we Vision Testing? Why do we continue to seek out specialists who couldn't care less about the "why" of the business? Wouldn't you like to know, when someone comes in for a job, that they're interested in the job because of the "why" the company is doing "what" it's doing?"

Answer: "Equity".

People who score high on Vision Tests... people who know "why" as much as they know "what"... they tend to want (and often command) a slice of the pie. The pie only has so many slices.

To protect his equity, the founder instead hires a bunch of equity-free wage slaves. They might not be as electric or inspiring as the Why & What folk, but at least they'll keep their greasy fingers away from the pie.

It's a trade off.


I have been on both sides of the equation ... as founder with the vision thing and then as the specialist that came in to give the vision in a different setting some structure (which is what I am doing now). What is missing in my current scenario is that constant drive to improve things ... ie, to reach a vision. We have incredibly dedicated people who work very hard, very long hours ... and they would like to see a better world materialize and would be really jazzed to have a vision to work toward other than more of the same of the day before. However, and to me this is key, the guys who had the original vision, sold the idea to someone else, and are now managing the deal have not given anyone in the organization a positive vision to work toward ... it just isn't there. And for me it has been an especially pointed learning period because having been on the other side thinking that "by golly, I have the passion for it, why doesn't everyone else" I can see that shaping and articulating the vision into something that those who will can latch on to and make the most of it and those who can't or won't still have some guidelines for action that keep the work on track with the vision. And this is damned hard work to do for a lot of people. Notwithstanding that it is so very important.


Keeping employees engaged is hard work. It takes planning and constant effort by executives to communicate with (as opposed to AT) employees. Even more difficult, it requires giving power to those employees to make decisions, so that they have an emotional investment in delivering success. How can the executives trust those employees to make the right decisions? They can't unless 1) they hired people with the expectation that those employees would be
capable of making good decisions, and 2) the
executives provide a framework for success in making those decisions. I think that this is why well-executed Balanced Scorecard initiatives have been able to deliver surprising success. The key is not the particular measures, it is the process of thinking about the cause-and-effect of low-level decisions to high-level objectives. It gives context to everyone's work.

The comments to this entry are closed.

My Photo

Change Congress

  • Change Congress
    Change Congress

January 2009

Sun Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri Sat
        1 2 3
4 5 6 7 8 9 10
11 12 13 14 15 16 17
18 19 20 21 22 23 24
25 26 27 28 29 30 31