Ken Blanchard on why vision matters and how to deploy it in an organization

Ken Blanchard, author of the classic management book The One-Minute Manager, had a few things to say on episode 11 of Dennis Miller’s Storybrand podcast about creating and propagating the vision.

Why does vision matter?

The first thing is that all leadership is about going somewhere. So you’ve got to really be clear with people where you want them to go.

what happens is if nobody knows what the vision and direction and goals are, then they have nothing to serve but themselves.

For example, take Walt Disney. He got this even before anybody else did. What business is it? He said, we’re in the happiness business.

The picture of the future that he had is that every guest leaving the park would have the same smile on their face leaving the park as when they entered 6, 8, 10, 12 hours ago. If we’re in the happiness business we want to keep them smiling. So then they have four values, that everybody knows. Number one, safety. Because Walt said if people get carried out of here in a stretcher, they’re not going to have the same smile on their face leaving the park as when they entered. And then the second value is really service. Which is how do we take care of your needs and all that. The third value is the show, which is you’re either onstage or offstage. If you’re onstage you’re playing Mickey Mouse or ticket taker and they have a description about what that job is all about. And then the last value interestingly is efficiency. R,unning a profitable, well run organization. Well why is that number four? Well it’s four because you don’t want somebody trying to save money by at the compromise of safety and all that kind of thing.

One of his mentors recommended a book:

And the book was a miracle at Philadelphia. And he said, the reason I want you to read it, is because here you had all these ego maniacs, you know, Benjamin Franklin, John Adams, John Quincy Adams, George Washington and all. But they had a vision for the country. They wanted those 13 states to be united. So because they had a vision. They took their egos and pushed them aside to work together.

The first thing is you need to be able to articulate your vision. How do you do that?

The two didn’t talk much about this in the discussion, but Blanchard did talk about how he refreshes vision when it needs updating.

Well, you know, one of the things I think that we don’t take enough time is alone time.

stop the train and get off.

have some time to think and walk and all, where it’s not just 10 minutes. But say, you know, where are we now? Where do we want to go?

Then you need to get buy-in. How do you do that?

Well, what I always say is that the initial draft of vision and a set of goals ought to come from the top of the hierarchy. But then rather than sort of laying it on people, say, “here’s our first draft.” What I’d like to do is set up focus groups around the organization and say, “How do you feel about this? What’s missing? Is there anything you want to wordsmith” and all and get their feedback.

And you take that, and then you go to them and say okay, here’s the second draft, based on your feedback. How is this? Til you get to the point that they say, Boy, I’m ready to go on that. But so many people don’t want to take that time. They want to come up with something and then just jam it on everybody.

And then you have to repeat it.

I had lunch one time with Max Dupree, who is legendary chairman of Herman Miller, he wrote a wonderful book about organizations and culture and all that kind of thing. And I said, What’s your job as chairman of this great company? And he said Ken I have to be like a third grade teacher. I said, what do you mean? He said, I have to say the vision and values over and over and over again, till people get it right, right, right.