Communicating Your Organizational Vision With The Cultural Web

By Govert van Sandwijk · March 20, 2019 · Posted in: Communication, Design Thinking, Team Development, Teamwork

Are you and your employees on the same page? Is everybody in your company engaged and excited about the same thing?

Or do you have different ideas of what ‘success’ really means?

We all know we should have a vision, a clear idea of where our organization is headed and why we exist in the first place. And, we know we need to communicate that vision so everybody can get on board.

But there are also a plethora of great ways that doing so also helps us create a healthy, unique, and positive company culture.

Why Communicating Vision Matters

Your company’s vision is intensely important because it shapes so many other things besides strategy. For one, a shared idea of what you’re here for and where you’re going is critical for:

– How you communicate and relate;

– What you value and pass on; and

– How you get there.

All of it together is something we can all relate to: meaning.

Pretty much, it’s about being able to give an answer when someone asks:

“What’s the point?”

Inside The Cultural Web

The Cultural Web is behind most of the very best tips you’ll hear about communicating your company’s vision, as I’ve shown below.

That means things like: “Communicate clearly”, “Walk the talk”, and “Aligning goals” actually hold meaning on a lot of different levels. At the end of it all, communicating vision has a big impact on culture, which can help or hinder your strategic efforts. To compete, adapt, or even survive. In its most extreme sense, communicating your vision can even decide whether you get there or not—through culture.

“How We Do Things Around Here”

Your vision might be to “accelerate the advent of clean transport and clean energy production” (Tesla), and one goal related to that might be affordable electric cars. Or it might be “A clean, healthy and well protected environment supporting a sustainable society and economy” (EPA Ireland), it should impact on how you get things done—your culture.

Communicating Vision Culture

If it’s the first, a company culture that values innovation and rewards forward thinking is certainly going to help. Your organizational structures will probably want to speed up cross-functional flows of ideas, and your outlets are probably (but not necessarily) going to be quite modern-looking.

The point is, culture is very powerful, and influenced heavily by whether or not you communicate your vision. It can be hard to grasp, but its manifestations can be found in all sorts of ‘hard’ and ‘soft’ places

From the stories we tell new comers while onboarding, to the way we dress our offices. Some is intentional, and some of these manifestations may represent our implicit mindsets. Even the parts we don’t particularly like.

A Zero-Communication Company

It’s a terribly dramatic way to portray the idea, but imagine a company with zero communication. Or, one person, way at the top, with exceptional vision, and a lot of other people who have “a pretty alright idea” of what’s going on. Turning up, focusing their best efforts on something they’re 80% sure is the vision.

Bob, for example, is a designer at Company A, where he turns up and puts his heart into designing clean, affordable transport. His beautifully heart-felt proposal for 2019 promotional merchandise is disposable coffee cups, emblazoned with the company logo.

Why would he do this? Because the company’s vision, while it’s clear in somebody’s head (at least), hasn’t been communicated effectively. Somewhere along the way, the much broader, cultural understanding of ‘clean’ got lost before reaching Bob.

Dramatic, but it happens on a smaller scale, and over time in companies all over the world. Not only is it poor communication from Company A’s leadership, but it can also be down to a few other things, too, such as silo mentalities or a lack of transparency throughout the firm.

And it links back to the Cultural Web.

How? In my experience, while a company’s vision can be clear in it’s logo, for example, their ‘systems’ may suggest otherwise. Or the things we celebrate can be different, such as in a firm that says, “We value openness and flexibility”, yet celebrates 10 or 20 years at the firm (loyalty) instead of celebrating a certain team’s adaptability.

And anyway, what happens when someone gives their 100% to something they’re only 80% sure about? Even worse, what if this happens at several different layers in a firm? (Answer: the message gets diluted much more quickly.)

Over the next couple of weeks, I’ll look at the different aspects of the Cultural Web as I’ve seen it in action. And while it’s an important part of our every day, I’ll also highlight some points at which it may be particularly critical, and how leaders can create a great culture by communicating vision.

In the meantime, why not learn more about Time To Grow Global at our LinkedIn Page?

Govert is Time To Grow Global’s Managing Partner, specializing in Strategy Facilitation, Leadership development and Organisational performance. Reach him on our Time To Grow Global LinkedIn.

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