Vision in practice

The MD2MD article about how important it is for the Managing Director leading a business to have a compelling vision came to me on New Year’s Day, traditionally a time for looking forward.

It had a strange impact on me, taking me back to March last year when the MD of a quantity surveying firm rang me and asked me to help them find their company vision. We’d met previously and spoken about the ‘why’, the concept brought to prominence by Simon Sinek and quoted in the MD2MD article.

We ended up locked away for a day (me + 3 directors) and finally came up with what you might call a ‘reputational’ vision – that by the year 2020, their ‘way’ of doing things would be seen as THE way to do things in the construction industry (the firm is called Poole Dick Associates).

We then agreed that I’d embed myself in the company for a year (a certain number of days per month) to help them achieve their vision, and it’s been a fascinating journey. It’s really satisfying to get into the ribs of a business instead of parachuting in for a short time, and it’s interesting to see how those who were initially sceptical are now coming around. But it takes time!

One objection to the Vision was that a company of their size (2 offices in Manchester and Stoke, 25 employees) couldn’t possibly have an influence in such a big industry. But hasn’t it always been individuals and small clusters of people who have shaped the world and really shaken things up?

A core value of the firm is the ‘Inside-Out’ principle – the belief that you can’t be great on the outside unless you’re strong on the inside. So a lot of work has been about people development – self-directed learning in softer skills, story-sharing sessions, visits to other local companies with great workplace cultures and a ‘Wall of Fame’ where people recognise each others’ contributions to the Vision.

The other interesting thing is that the directors and business development guys have been openly talking about the work we’ve been doing while they’ve been networking. It’s a refreshingly new story to put out there, and people have been really interested in hearing about it (possibly because they feel they ought to be doing something similar). Unlike normal ‘noisy’ marketing, they’ve been creating a buzz.

I’m pleased article drew attention to the importance of vision – it’s a galvanizing force when it’s handled well but you’ve got to keep it front of mind at all times and continually reinforce the message. It’s about looking forward and building something – together.

So although MD2MD has made me look back, I’ve now set my sights firmly on the future!

A guest post by MD2MD speaker Andrew Thorp

andrew (at),,  Tel: 0 7968 083 376