How to create high potential communities?
Ken Blanchard told me Jesse Stoner is one of the world’s experts on the topic of vision.
Jesse grew up Jewish in a small Midwest community where being Jewish was something you hid if you could. She lived in two worlds.
In the main stream world she knew she didn’t fully belong and kept her ethnicity to herself.
In her smaller community, she deeply belonged. She didn’t realize all her “aunts” and “uncles” weren’t relatives until she was in her teens. She grew up rooted and belonging to a tight community born partially as a result of prejudice.
Thirty years later, Jesse Stoner has become one of the world’s experts in creating vision. More importantly, her specific expertise is moving vision from dream to reality. She’s all about making vision happen.
When I asked Jesse what excites her about vision she said, “Vision is something that brings people together to achieve a purpose that reaches beyond individuals.” She added, “Creating and executing vision brings people together in a context that maximizes their potential.”
Jesse explained four essential components of vision that creates connected, high potential communities.
- Embracing a noble purpose brings people together. For example, your business is more than selling shoes. Its making people feel good about themselves while they are walking to work. Noble purpose motivates individuals to band together. It gives them energy to identify and embrace shared values.
- Shared values create and maintain community cohesion.
- Talk over and explore shared values.
- Explain what they mean in clear language.
- Identify which values fuel your passion.
- Enjoy the power of alignment.
Jesse explained that, “Everyone doesn’t have to share the same values to the same degree. However, everyone needs to agree on which value or values they are willing to stand in front of the bus for.”
“Embracing a noble purpose” — isn’t it interesting that we’re all wired that way, that we want our lives to be spent toward something more than just making a living? It’s one of the hardest things to accomplish in a manufacturing environment, even though what we manufacture, paint, is a huge economic multiplier for our country (think of the impact if products failed in a fourth the time due to corrosion, etc.). Even though I can get passionate about it, it’s tough to get employees to catch the vision.
Greg, there is something important about paint or you would not manufacture it. I’m not sure what kind of paint you manufacture, but for the sake of the conversation, let’s assume it’s house paint. Why do people need and purchase house paint? To preserve their homes? To make them beautiful? What would happen if there was no paint? When you consider your business from the viewpoint of those who receive your services, you can discover your purpose. Maybe your company’s purpose is to preserve homes for future generations. Or maybe it’s to give people a way to cheer up their homes or express the mood they want. These are just thoughts off the top of my head to stimulate your thinking. The best way to discover your purpose is to talk with others who are part of your company and see what they think it is. You might discover a common theme. Best wishes to you in this. We all deserve to, and can, feel good about our contribution.
I love you comment “everyone needs to agree on which value or values they are willing to stand in front of the bus for.” Just an incredible image of commitment and so very appropriate.
I like Jesse’s expanded definition of vision: “Creating and executing vision brings people together in a context that maximizes their potential.” My experience in certain organizations has been that somehow the passion for the created vision dies and is not continually communicated to new employees thus the potential for moving forward as a cohesive community with the shared vision dies. Ongoing execution of vision is vital for exponential growth.
Excellent observation. Unless you are constantly refreshing the vision, it will decay in direct proportion to turnover. Very few treatments of vision make that point — thank you.
Great point, Jan ahd Greg. I often find that people consider “visioning” an activity that they check off their To Do list and then move on. No wonder it doesn’t continue to guide them. My own experience is that the execution of the vision is as important as articulating it, and in fact needs to be an iterative process. As you say, it is important to continually revisit and refresh the vision with all involved.
Lest we forget…entropy happens! (not talking thermodynamics here) 😉
The first thing I thought of when reading the example of “not just selling shoes” is the customer service team at Zappos (Twitter = @zappos_service). I am quite the Twitter enthusiast, so when Zappos service and I came into each other’s orbit, I became a fan quickly. And I have never bought a single shoe from them (yet)!
For example, I help the local film school with pre-production work as a volunteer. Recently, in the middle of MARCH (as far away from Halloween as possible), I needed to find a skeleton. I got into a conversation with Zappos about it and they tweeted back, “Can’t find any skeletons but we do have this [and they included a picture of a tshirt in their clothing inventory that had a skeleton on it]. It was just a little extra “above and beyond” to show they really heard my question and although they couldn’t produce a skeleton, they took the time to have a little bit of fun with me about it. If the opportunity ever presents itself for me to purchase shoes online, they’ll be my go-to, all because they have invested in me as a potential customer.
Gotta love the ‘enjoy the power of alignment’ statement. There will be opportunities to enjoy/celebrate the success, don’t miss out on them, in the moment. Timing is everything.
And the sum of that power of alignment is greater than the individual parts which is pretty amazing too.
It seems that full steam ahead is about alignment, sharing and caring. Alignment of value, vision, efforts with people, sharing of emotional feelings and reactions among people and caring them more your then yourself. It is very true that alignment is very important and if done properly, it has power to achieve remarkable result, but if aligned poorly, it can derails any effort into valueless result. Similarly, sharing of emotional response is very much needed. It actually fuels the collective effort. Feelings of belongingness and love is powerful motivator. Finally, as it takes two to make a quarrel, similarly, if you don’t care the feelings of others, it could lead to trust loss. So, caring of the feelings of the others is very crucial to make alignment effective and successful.
Dan, Because you gave Jesse’s background before her comments on vision, they had so much more impact, eventhough I follow Jesse on Twitter so am familiar with who she is.
The way embracing a noble purpose was explained made it so clear to me. It made me think of the movie Ghandi and how was willing to stay on the hunger strikes until the people were willing to go in peace. That noble purpose was so powerful.
I look forward to tomorrow’s post.