Vision and Purpose

May 03

Jim Collins and Jerry Porras wrote a paper, Building Your Company’s Vision, which rehashes some of the material from prior books. Two ideas that they draw on in this paper include Big Hairy Audacious Goals and A focus on Core Ideology. The argument they make is that in order to establish a meaningful vision, awareness of existential purpose and a determination to invest in an ideal future are necessary.

The idea behind Big Hairy Audacious Goals, shortened to BHAGs, is that they embody a future world or state in which the core purpose of the business has been fully realized and its potential reached. In such a statement, the management of a company is effectively declaring what success will look like, given the current understanding of the purpose for which the business exists.

The authors first discussed purpose in terms of ideology, suggesting that in effective companies, a purpose is driven by something more fundamental and meaningful. In other words, core purpose (as they call it) in the absence of an ideological driver, is insufficient to establish a compelling vision. In order for a vision to be truly motivating there must be something deeper than financials and market share.

On the whole, I find that Jim Collin’s conclusions and analogies fall flat with me.

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