Good strategy is design, and design is about fitting various pieces together so they work as a coherent whole.Richard Rumelt: Good Strategy, Bad Strategy
An idea from Ken Blanchard.”What happens is if nobody knows what the vision and direction and goals are, then they have nothing to serve but themselves.”
Have fun in your journey through life and learn from your mistakes.Richard Branson, interview with Motivated Magazine
When you grow up, you tend to get told that the world is the way it is and your life is just to live your life inside the world. Try not to bash into the walls too much. Try to have a nice family life, have fun, save a little money. That’s a very limited life. Life can be much broader once you discover one simple fact. And that is: everything around you that you call life was made up by people that were no smarter than you. And you can change it, you can influence it, you can build your own things that other people can use. You can poke life and something will pop out the other side. You can change it, you can mold it. That’s maybe the most important thing — to shake off this erroneous notion that life is there and you’re just gonna live it. Once you learn that, you’ll never be the same again.Steve Jobs, 1994 interview
Ken Blanchard is a big believer in the power of the vision to activate and align members of an organization. He also believes that vision is important for individuals in their personal lives. In this video (which is a bit heavy on the Christian) he offers a framework for developing a personal vision. He says:
What is your own personal vision? Who do you want to really be in the world?
There are three parts of a compelling vision.
- Purpose. What is your purpose in life? If you were a business, what business would you be in? Three aspects to this:
- Come up with two to three nouns that describe aspects that are unique to you. Strengths of yours. Eg, for Ken, it’s: Teacher and Example.
- Come up with two to three verbs that say how you like to influence other people. Eg, for Ken, it’s: Help and Motivate.
- Come up with a statement that describes what you’re gonna do in the world. Eg, for Ken, it’s: “I want to be a loving teacher and example of simple truths that helps and motivates others to awaken to the presence of God in our lives.”
- Legacy. What is your picture of the future? What will happen if you live according to your purpose? How will people describe you? Exercise: write your own obituary. Story: Alfred Nobel had a brother who died, but the newspaper got it wrong and thought Alfred wrong, so he got to read his own obituary. They described him as a merchant of death. He was devastated. So he set out to change his obituary. What’s the opposite of death? Peace.
- Values. What are the values that are going to guide your journey? Come up with values in these three categories:
- Spiritual. Eg, for Ken: Peace.
- Relationship. Eg, for Ken: Love and Integrity.
- Self. What are you doing for yourself. Eg, for Ken: Learning.
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.
Garret Reisman worked with Musk for 7 years at SpaceX. Here’s what he said about how Musk makes decisions at SpaceX:
He measures pretty much every major decision by whether it brings the day when we have a self-sustainable colony on Mars sooner or later. Every single decision he makes, he makes it through that prism.
It’s like sitting in a satellite and watching the emissions from a city and trying to infer things about the microeconomy, even though you don’t have microeconomic concepts.”From the Lex Fridman podcast, episode 74.
I always assumed that a linchpin was something like the brooch that holds a cloak together at the chest or neck. Which kinda makes sense given the colloquial usage in which a linchpin is the thing that holds it all together — the sine qua non.
But it turns out that a linchpin is something different.
A linchpin is the pin or metal rod that goes through the end of an axle to prevent the wheel from sliding off. Like this: