Five Components of A Vision-based Work Culture

2017 has brought a new vision for THINK’ID8.  It’s fitting that the first post on the new site focuses on vision and how vision impacts work culture.  Crafting a vision for your organization is hard work, and it should be.  After all, vision is what defines your organization.  Vision establishes a picture for your organization and like a good snapshot, needs a defined, in-focus subject that is attractive to many.  Vision informs every activity, every system, every product, every customer interaction and every employee’s role and performance.  Yes, vision is THAT important.

Walk into your morning coffee or bagel shop and start observing the environment, the team, the food, the other customers.  Can you tell what their vision is?  How does the staff respond to your arrival?  Do they care that you made a choice to visit their shop?  Do they share their enthusiasm for your patronage?  Does the team understand their individual roles in meeting your needs?  The reason you return to the shop frequently  is related to their vision.  An organization without vision will do little to attract customers, regardless of the type of organization. Staff will feel lost and not understand how to interact with each other or those they serve.  And, the products and service will have limited appeal and quality.

Crafting a vision is just part of a vision-based work culture.  An organization with a well crafted vision has little more than a statement to be framed or posted on a website.   If you’re looking to build a vision-based work culture, start by considering the following five components.

  •  An easy to remember, shareable vision.

Too often, vision statements are LONG and cumbersome.  Vision statements can’t be hard to envision.  The simpler the better.  Your team can’t remember a complex statement that isn’t easily thought about during the course of their day.  Your vision should also be something easy to post in a variety  of places.  Use this rule.  If you can’t put your vision onto your business card, it’s too long.

  • Vision-based work cultures talk about their vision…A LOT!

Start meetings with a review of the topic and how it relates to your organizational vision.  In organizational communications, include your vision and again, relate the message of the communication to your vision. Be sincere, and NEVER make light of your vision or assume everyone’s tired of hearing about it.

  • Establish an understanding of anti-vision behavior and performance.

Knowing what DOESN’T match your vision is as important as knowing what does.  As your team goes about their day, each person has a responsibility to watch and listen for anti-vision behavior from others.  Each person should be empowered to react in an instructional way to help others.  And, everyone must be open to receiving this instruction.  The key is to not make this peer level support feel like criticism or compliance.  Respect and empathy must be at the center of changing anti-vision behavior and aligning performance standards to your vision.

  • Create a vision-based working environment.

 Space, or better, use of space, is an important part of managing a vision-based work culture.  Your team’s space must support the organizational vision.  Also important is work time and place.  With many organizations harnessing the power of the conceptual age we’re experiencing today, work is becoming less about time and more about results.  As such, remote work, flexible office spaces, functional shared and open spaces are becoming more important and prevalent. Create recurring moments for your team to reflect on your work environment and build flexible, reactive systems should  changes be identified.  Set policies and permission-oriented procedures may be needed but not to a point where they create barriers.

  • Align services, products and projects to the organizational vision.

Every effort of the organization needs to have a clear relationship to the vision of the organization.  Before launching any project, spend time as a team outlining how the project will help the organization approach the vision.  If the team struggles for more than a few minutes, that project may not be of value.  If you start to notice none of your projects are related to your vision, then your team may be working form old habits, your vision may not be clear, or worse, your organization may have a vision that just isn’t valid.

A vision-based work culture is yours if you’re willing to invest the energy and persevere.  If you’re the leader of your organization, you’ll be the main character in this effort.  But, building vision-based work cultures is far from being a top-down effort.  Vision-based organizations are highly communicative, focused on learning, flexible and quick to change as needs and opportunities arise. Practice the five components above to get started and let me know the results of your efforts.

Mark T. Burke
CEO, Founder of THINK’ID8





Vision and Mission

Am I on a Mission, or do I have a Vision?

By Mark T. Burke

Confused about Mission vs. Vision?  These words are often used interchangeably within organizations.  But that leads to confusion.  A common phrase, “I’m on a mission” tells us something important about the distinction between Mission and Vision.  Let’s explore.

Vision and Mission

Spend a few minutes on the Merriam-Webster site and you’ll find a variety of definitions for both words.  Keep in mind though, we’re exploring the distinctions between these two words.  I found the graphic above and it speaks to the important distinction.  Notice that Vision is all about Ideas, Foresight, Concepts, Seeing and Direction.  Mission involves Plans, Scales, Paths, Tools and Goals or Accomplishments.  This graphic showcases well that Vision is an idea and Mission is the path to help you accomplish an idea.

If you’re a Sci-Fi fan, you probably know about MARS, the series on NatGeo.  I believe this series does a great job of making the distinction between Vision and Mission clear.

Vision = Colonize Mars

Mission = Build rockets that can land and take off again, Build systems to support life, Gather tons of money and support, Train experts, Break the laws of physics, etc. etc.

Vision is the DREAM, Mission is what we do to achieve that DREAM (Vision).

The relationship between the two as well as the distinction, helps organizations create clear internal and external facing documentation of both.  And, as we aim to ensure we have a powerful Vision and a clear Mission, understanding the two clarifies the development process.

If you have any questions about Vision and Mission or you’re ready to explore your organization’s development and application of both, use the Contact tab above to send me a message.

Doers Unite…and Change!

By Mark T. Burke

Monday morning. You go to your place of work.  You prep for the day.  You casually meet your fellow co-workers as they do the same.  How are you thinking about your day?  About your week?  Do you start to think about all the “things” you have to do?  File this. Submit that. Talk to Matt.  Meet Deanna.  Attend meeting XYZ.  If this list sounds familiar, you’re not alone.  In fact, you’re probably like most others in your organization.  You’ve become a first class DOER.  And…and this is the scarier thing, your work culture is most likely supportive of your “doer” status.

Are you a Doer?  Think more about accomplisments.
Are you a Doer?
A “doer”  in this case is someone that does things to get through their days, their weeks, their years.  A doer has the mental model that their job…no, scratch that…their WORK is about DOING.  “If I do this, then that, and get this done and take on that, my WORK is good.  My job is safe.  Life is good!”

There’s nothing wrong with being a doer.  Doing is very important to an organization.  Doing gets the job done.  I’ve covered this in a course on Entrepreneurial Spirit I built a few years ago.  We must all balance “Thinking, Building and Doing.”  The issue is that work cultures can take the path of becoming based on doing, thus eliminating the THINKING and the BUILDING.  A doer work culture sidesteps the purpose behind doing for all but a few.  In a doing culture, a few people know why things are being done while the masses go about doing random, disconnected tasks to support the intended accomplishment.  Job trumps WORK in this case.  

Doing a good job is important. But doing good WORK is more important.

Incremental shifts can move mountains.  So for today, your (our) task is to shift thinking from penning a “to do” list to building desired accomplishments.    This is our time to unite and change for the better.  Thinking about accomplishments shifts our thinking to the more important efforts.  It gives us a yardstick to measure our minute-by-minute efforts.  By keeping our accomplishments clearly focused, we won’t get lost in the mundane tasks of the day.  As you begin this shift, share your efforts with your team (your boss and those who report to you, your clients, your customers). Help your organization shift from being a team of doers to a team focused on valued accomplishments, valued WORK.

How do you keep focused on your accomplishments?


Impact Zone Graphic

Instructional Design and Vision, IMPACT Zone!

By Mark T. Burke

When two objects collide, they change.  Everything about them changes.  Their physical shape, their color, their weight, even their atomic structure, the fundamental makeup of the objects can change.  The space between them changes.  The surrounding environment changes.  In many cases, new pathways are created through existing barriers.  The energy given off by the two object’s IMPACT changes to energy of a new type and that energy seeks out new IMPACT zones.

Impact Zone Graphic
Impacts create unknown pathways.

Organizational visioning can be incredibly difficult work.  Determining why an organization exists, its purpose, is just the beginning.  Visioning includes the work to align the WHOLE organization with the vision.  That means that everything from people to processes, to language, incentives, all systems need to be aligned.  The need for that alignment can highlight an organization’s need to learn and grow.  If a Vision can be reach today, it’s not big enough. So how does an organization fill the gap between what they know today and what they need to know to reach their vision?  Well look up.  That big meteor-like object coming at you fast is known as Instructional Design.

Instructional Design has a reputation of being a field where non-educator people help subject matter experts build educational content for delivery via various mediums.  Reputation vs reality…Instructional Design if far from that definition.  I’ve had the fortune of being an ID’er for the past 20 years (time flies).  During that time I’ve witnessed, as well as advocated for a broadening of the perspectives on the value of ID within organizations.  A few years ago, I attended a webinar on how Caribou Coffee approached their vision through the use of the Wisetail Learning Management System.  That webinar kick-started my thoughts on the impact zone between instructional design and organization vision.  When organizations are failing to meet their vision, have NO vision, or are seeking a new vision, LEARNING is the “object” that will create the pathway(s) to that vision.  The IMPACT ZONE between Instructional Design and Vision is the beginning to organizational shifts and vision oriented work.

What should we know about this IMPACT Zone and how to harness it?

  1.  Set the trajectory for the IMPACT.  Instructional Designer and the process of Instructional Design, helps organizations build training AND change mental models.  Training is the easy part.  Training reinforces the “do this now” type of tasks within all organizations.  Building and changing staff mental models…whoa!  Now, that’s not easy.  Changing mental models involves exposing staff to THINKING they may not be familiar with or open to. When vision work is viewed as the instructional challenge it is (ie…an organization sets each on a collision courses), the most fundamental causes for why an organization is not vision-oriented or why they are not moving toward their vision is addressed….the HUMANS!
  2. Be Prepared for the Initial IMPACT. Impact of two weighty objects creates a lot of heat.  When Instructional Design is placed on a course to IMPACT an organization’s Vision, and they ultimately collide, both will be changed immediately.  In day-to-day terms, staff may see immediate shifts that change the way they think, the way they are treated and the way they treat others (customers and peers).  Some will embrace the collision and others will buckle in and push back.  But people can change over time.  Instructional Design solutions have to consider the initial IMPACT as a temporary phenomenon to embrace.  But, that energy soon changes as it starts to dissipate outward.
  3. Get Ahead of the IMPACT Wave.  Shaping the relationship between Instructional Design and Vision is an ongoing process.  There won’t be a point where an organization can say, “we’re done.”  People are creatures of habits that form and stay.  It’s up to us how long.  Vision work requires continual guidance along an IMPACT wave.  The need for continual reshaping of mental models is what drives vision oriented organizations.  As I mentioned earlier, if a Vision is something you can reach today, it’s not big enough.

Please share your thoughts and ideas on this topic.  If you would like to learn more, use the Contact tab above to send me a personal message.  Thanks for reading.