By Saad Amanullah Khan, author of “It’s Business, It’s Personal: From Setting a Vision to Delivering it Through Organizational Excellence“
One of the greatest challenges that any start-up, entrepreneur or an existing business can face is how to convert their innovation or unique idea into an actual running, profitable and sustainable business.
In my nearly 3 decades of senior management experience in globally renowned companies such as Procter & Gamble and Gillette plus another 5 start-ups under my belt, the knowledge of a unique concept has steered me towards success. This unique concept has been fine-tuned and improved upon by these large corporates using knowledge and experiences of thousands of brilliant minds.
This unique concept is all about ‘direction setting’ coupled with ‘organizational excellence’. It covers notions of creating and deploying a vision to an organization to successfully defining goals or milestones that will help deliver the vision. From developing a handpicked set of strategies to deploying these strategies across the organization and delivering them with excellence.
All these activities will not be very effective if they are not fueled and complemented with organizational excellence; excellence in creating a culture of merit and passion, which is critical in turning these vision and strategies into a profitable sustainable business.
The book “It’s Business, It’s Personal” contains the extract of 30 odd years of my knowledge and experiences in this field. This book has been divided into two distinct parts, one for ‘direction setting’ and the other for ‘organizational excellence’. I have used the association and implication of these two parts to clarify this unique concept. In order to elucidate I have used the metaphor of ‘masterpiece’ in the field of art and painting.
Creating a Masterpiece.
When an artist starts his/her masterpiece, they start with a rough sketch or outline; this stage is what I consider the ‘direction setting’ process in a business setting, a must process to get any business started on the right track. This rough sketch at this stage is nothing close to being called a masterpiece.
After creating the sketch the artist paints it with colors, which helps to bring it to life and if done with passion and class, some of these paintings may later be called masterpieces; this action of putting color is what in a business environment I call delivering your business plans with ‘organizational excellence’.
No piece of art can be called a ‘masterpiece’ without filling it with brilliant colors. Similarly, no business can be successful or sustainable if its business plans are not executed with excellence. These business plans need to be executed with excellence in order to become market leaders or trendsetters.
“To grow a plant you need air, sunlight and fertile ground.
Similarly for an organization to realize its vision you need a culture where passion for winning, positive thinking, leadership behavior and striving for excellence is a way of life.”
By combining “Direction Setting” and “Organizational Excellence” you create a formidable recipe that is lethal and will beat competition on a sustainable basis.
I know of many instances where a formidable vision and a set of strategies were developed and deployed, but nothing substantial came out of it. Remember that a vision in isolation has no value and no likelihood of turning into reality if it is not fully supported by an encouraging corporate culture, a ‘can do’ mindset, positive thinking and passionate and committed leaders.
There are many pitfalls when one tries to deliver ones vision, but most prominent amongst the list of pitfalls is the lack of a winning culture, and an environment that lacks trust and value driven behavior.
To tackle this pitfall, start early in creating a positive and conducive environment. Always remember that culture soaks from top down. You, as the founder and, your leadership team will be responsible to drive this behavior. If you and your leadership team are hard working, ethical and show a high level of integrity in your dealings with everyone, the same culture and values will start to take root and soon will start to permeate the workplace’s culture.
Some watch outs during the ‘direction setting’ phase include lack of in-depth research, not understanding your customer properly, working on too many strategies, and not willing to accept change. In today’s fast paced world, technology and demographic changes can sneak in and disrupt business plans, one has to be in-touch and have their finger on the pulse. Other pitfalls of why companies fail ranges from not objectively assessing competition to not assessing your own capabilities.
Nothing substantial can ever be delivered if either of the two is missing in any organization. Remember that changing the hearts and minds of the people, who can then deliver extraordinary results, can take a long time and can be a very exasperating experience, so start early, start today.
Saad Amanullah Khan, author of “It’s Business, It’s Personal: From Setting a Vision to Delivering it Through Organizational Excellence“, is the founder of Alamut Consulting and VanGuard Matrix. He was previously CEO of Gillette Pakistan and spent twenty years with Procter & Gamble. Khan was also twice elected president of the American Business Council and founded the Pakistan Innovation Foundation and the National Entrepreneur Working Group.