What's your vision?
Why is it so hard to answer that question? Seriously, you'd think it would be easy to define any of one of our purposes in the world, but it's not. That so many strategic consultancies—for both companies and individuals—exist only highlights that the question has birthed whole industries to answer it.
So, why is the question so tough? Because it requires us to think beyond today. Beyond the the tangible stuff. Beyond all the little things we do. It asks us to string those things together into a pattern, a story, a north star—an idea that can guide and inspire us day and day out.
For the past few years, Simon Sinek's "Start with Why" has been making its way around the communications world as a framework to help answer the question of purpose and frankly the TED video is worth watching. The premise is simple: great leaders and businesses inspire not by stating what they do (make computers) or how they do what they do (by making them beautiful designed and easy to use) but why they do what they do (to challenge the status quo). Now I do love the simplicity of this idea. It even makes a nice bulls eye, and who doesn't like a framework that actually culminates in a real target?
But why not let TV also handle this question? And who better than of course, HBO's Silicon Valley? I swear they've been taking a page right out of the branding play book for weeks now and I freaking love it. This week Richard confronts the fact that he has no real, or at least speakable, vision for his newly founded company. poor guy can't even describe it.
And he's not alone.
Poor Richard, he doesn't get it even when it hits him in the face. The details matter, but the details aren't the vision. Let's see him struggle...
Yup. That is basically what the CEO does. And in case the poor bastard needed reminding the stakes for this are high...
And that should be motivation. Well it's a bit demoralizing if you ask me, but the sentiment is spot on. Figuring out the vision beyond one product or one goal is paramount to the success of any organization. At FutureBrand we call this an organization's purpose, but don't let the spiritual nature of the word throw you. Purpose, or vision if you prefer, isn't some kumbaya, CSR, feel good crap statement. If defined properly, purpose is your source of customers and revenue. It's why you exist and why people choose you. And if you're Richard. It's why you turned down millions of dollars. So, to my friends in startups or established organizations alike, I ask, why your vision? Oh and if you need help, call me. I do this for a living :)
All images from HBO's Silicon Valley, which plays Sundays at 10pm. I don't get any kickbacks or nada for this, btw. I just think the show is spot on with branding for startups.