Christopher Columbus had a vision. He needed a sponsor for a dangerous discovery expedition but the King of Portugal wasn't interested. He went back to the drawing board, redesigned his proposed strategy for the Queen of Spain… and the rest is history. Converting “Visions” to reality requires much more than hope, and its centerpiece is Business Cartography.
In business, leaders need a map to get to where they want to be, and because they need to direct an entire organization to the desired result, they need a written strategy (map) to clarify the journey. The major challenge of business cartography a leader faces, is to ensure consistency and alignment of all business policies and practices with the ultimate success goal. There are three serial, interlocked elements required for successful Business Cartography:
Vision: A vision is an over-riding idea of what the organization should be. Often it reflects the dream of the founder or leader. Your company's vision could be, for example, to be "the largest retailer of automobiles in the US", "the maker of the finest chocolate candies in London", or "the management consultant of choice for non-profit organizations in the Southwest." A vision is something you can touch; you can motivate people with; be number one and number two in every business. You can energize people around the message.
Strategy: What you are going to do to achieve your vision. It's an organization's process of defining its strategy, or direction, and making decisions on allocating its resources to pursue this strategy. The responsibility for strategic planning rests with the executive team. No one else is ever going to do that work for you, or without your involvement!
Tactics: How you will achieve your strategy and when. Tactical planning relates to actions taken day-to-day, and whose results will move the company forward to achieve the objectives outlined in the strategic plan. The responsibility to plan this belongs to those who perform the work. They are truly the only ones qualified to plan it.
Wayne Gretzky, considered by many to be the greatest player in hockey history, had a winning ‘map’ that led him consistently to his vision of victory. When asked about the strategy he used to become hockey’s most prolific scorer, he responded: “I skate to where the puck is going to be, not where it has been”. His creativity of mind led his athletic capabilities straight to the hockey Hall of Fame.
Just as your car runs more smoothly and requires less energy to go faster and farther when the wheels are in perfect alignment, businesses perform better when their vision, strategy and tactics are clearly aligned, and subscribed to by the entire organization. Visions, strategies and tactics need not be a tome of print. They need to be creative and effective plans that map out what is required for business success.
Business Cartography emulates the strategies of Columbus and Gretzky but it differs because it is not an individual effort. Getting the vision, strategy and actions aligned throughout an organization is prerequisite to success as it focuses and energizes the entire team to act as one. As Henry Ford remarked, “If everyone is moving forward together, then success takes care of itself."
The old adage: “It’s not personal, it’s just business” is bunk.
Hollywood-style movies, many business schools and too many executive coaches would have you believe that emotion is the enemy. They’d have you think that to be successful you must scheme, plot and ultimately crush your opponents -in traditional zero sum fashion. That’s not to say warfare has no place in business –because it absolutely does. However, the mentality of command-and-conquer business leadership doesn’t work for most companies –anymore.
The world has changed. Today, a Maasai-tribesman on the plains of Kenya has access to more information via his smartphone than a White House top-level official did in the 1980s. Full stop. With advancements in technology and communication, it has never been easier for “the individual voice of the masses” to be heard. And, guess what… They care. Countless blogs, videos, websites, organizations and grassroots movements have been started because of the shared-beliefs of a few or many individuals –simply because they care enough to share.
It’s no longer good enough for a business to just open its doors and hope for customers. Today’s customer wants to know what your business believes in. It’s the reason that companies like Apple have such a loyal customer following. Apple believes in “challenging the status quo” with every single product. Accordingly, Apple customers yearn for those distinctions.
People care what you, as the leader of your company, truly believe in. The business world is still brimming with mediocre companies holding on to the outdated premise of keeping “heart” out of their businesses. This represents an incalculably-huge opportunity for passionate, empowered and driven startups. People desperately want to believe in something authentic. Authenticity cannot be measured, but it is instantly recognized. Ardent shared-passion throughout your company fosters such purity.
If you make your business take a stand for what you believe in, they will love you…