STEP 4: Communicating the Vision for Buy-in

Ensuring that as many people as possible understand and accept the vision

Gaining an understanding and commitment to a new direction is never an easy task, especially in complex organizations. Undercommunication and inconsistency are rampant. Both create stalled transformations.

Most companies undercommunciate their visions by at least a factor of 10. A single memo announcing the transformation or even a series of speeches by the CEO and the executive team are never enough. To be effective, the vision must be communicated in hour-by-hour activities. The vision will be referred to in emails, in meetings, in presentations – it will be communicated anywhere and everywhere. 

Executives will use every effective communication channel possible to broadcast the vision. They turn boring and unread company newsletters into lively articles about the vision. Ritualistic and tedious quarterly meetings are turned into exciting discussions about transformation. Generic education programs are thrown out and replaced with sessions that focus on business problems and the new vision.

In communicating the vision for the transformation, there are some things to keep in mind. The vision should be:

  • Simple: No techno babble or jargon.
  • Vivid: A verbal picture is worth a thousand words – use metaphor, analogy, and example.
  • Repeatable: Ideas should be able to be spread by anyone to anyone.
  • Invitational: Two-way communication is always more powerful than one-way communication.

In pursuit of simplicity, fewer words are better. Consider the following:

Version 1: Our goal is to reduce our mean time to repair parameters so that they are perceptually lower than all major competitors inside the United States and out. In a similar vein, we have targeted new product development cycle times, order process times, and other customer-relevant processes for change.

Version 2: We are going to become faster than anyone in our industry at satisfying customer needs.

Actions Speak Louder Than Words
Even more important than what is said is what is done. Leaders who transform their organizations “walk the talk.” They seek to become a living example of the new corporate culture that the vision aspires to. Nothing undermines a communication program more quickly than inconsistent actions by leadership. Nothing speaks as powerfully as someone who is backing up their words with behavior. When an entire team of senior management starts behaving differently and embodies the change they want to see, it sends a powerful message to the entire organization. These actions increase motivation, inspire confidence and decrease cynicism.


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