Running an effective offsite – Part 2: Review the Vision

In the last post, I talked about the important ground rules that could be considered when setting up an offsite, having previously discussed the reasons for holding an offsite, and some of the basic logistics.

In this post, I discuss the process that we followed for setting an agenda — having set the scene and the big picture outcomes we wanted from our offsite, we determined the process would be easier if we did.

Review the Vision. Go over the company vision as you understand it. Is everyone on the same page? Does it still make sense? It had been some time since we lasted visited our Vision and tested it in this way, so we felt this would be really valuable.

Vision Statements are challenging work; something that takes a few seconds to say may take many hours of crafting to get it just right. Why is it so important? Because it’s the thing that, when someone who works at the company reads it, immediately tells them why. The Vision should start with a statement describing the nirvana you want to achieve, in the present tense. Such as: we are the best/fastest/biggest/most secure/most profitable supplier or manufacturer of such-and-such; we are X size in revenues, profits, market value; the such-and-such market is all the better for our being there because…

When it comes to articulating the vision, it’s easy enough to have everyone in the room understanding where you want to go from a senior management perspective and through Q&A, but the challenge is making everyone else understand it. We came up with the following settings to test the Vision in short and long form. Would it makes sense in all of them?

  • Elevator pitch (5-10 seconds): “We do X for Y customers and we’re the cheapest/best/fastest growing…”
  • Customer Pitch: (30 seconds – 1 minute) What the sales team  articulates during a sales call. Does it make sense to customers and prospects?
  • Staff pitch: (again 5-10 seconds) What staff say in response to friends and family asking “what do you do?”, to colleagues in other companies – so that they’ll want to work for ours – and to suppliers and customers.
  • Media pitch: (15 – 30 seconds) What we tell the media. Media interaction is its own topic, so without going into it here, this is where we wanted to kill the motherhood statement and jargon. Someone in the media is writing for a wide audience, usually; so think of the pitch to the media as talking to Aunty Flo –  only the simplest explanation will work!
  • Investor pitch: (30 seconds – 1 minute) The articulation of the vision for potential investors has to talk about the unique value proposition in the market; why there are barriers making it hard for the competition, how we make a profit, why we’re in it for the long haul.

Having reviewed the vision and how to articulate it to people, we then go on to set the Goals, which I cover in the next post.

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