Last June, my wife and I went to Omaha to celebrate my daughter’s birthday with her and her family. My grandson, Tyler, was watching out the front window as his grandma pulled into the driveway. At the time, Tyler was nearly 21 months old. What happened next is a story that Tyler still retells to this day.
Marsha had purchased some helium balloons and one of them escaped her as she got out of the car. She quickly tried to retrieve it; she ran and jumped for the balloon as it rose higher and higher. However, the balloon escaped beyond her reach and soared away until its image became smaller and smaller against the bright blue summer sky. And then finally it was gone.
When Marsha entered the house, Tyler was there to greet her at the door to reenact everything he just saw. “Up, up,” he called to her as he jumped toward the sky as if he would catch the balloon himself. And for days and weeks afterwards, Tyler was talking about the “big one that got away.”
One of my New Year’s resolutions is to write Tyler a letter every week. I always try to insert some pictures or images in the letter that represent the things I know he currently enjoys (e.g., Elmo, Cookie Monster). Last week I put an image of three balloons – yellow, red and green – in the letter and asked Tyler if he thought the balloons were the ones that got away from his grandma. We were visiting with my daughter on Skype last night. I asked Marisa if Tyler noticed the balloons in my letter. She replied, “Oh yes. He said, “No. No. Blue. Blue!” He remembered that the balloon that got away from his grandma was blue.
I find it amazing that Tyler still vividly remembers the event and even the color of the balloon. Every little detail of watching his grandma try to chase down that balloon is cemented in his mind after seven months – which is like an eternity for a two-year old.
It reminded me of working with company owners who have a difficult time communicating their vision to others in their organization. What if they could do for their employees what Marsha did for Tyler?
Many founding leaders have a very clear vision for their company. If they didn’t, it’s unlikely they would have achieved success in their business. The challenge for them is discovering how they can articulate their vision across their organization so that it is shared and drives strategy, decision making and the kind of change that is required to create a successful and sustainable business.
In his December 2008 whitepaper, Communicating a Vision, Dr. J. Thomas Whetstone wrote, “The CEO’s example provides a simple, yet effective, method for communicating a vision that any leader could emulate.” Dr. Whetstone went on to point out that you can establish and communicate a vision as a foundation for your organization’s moral culture if:
1. It is a good vision,
2. You, as the leader, are truly committed to plan according to the vision, and you live according to the vision, and
3. You continually stress its reality and importance.
How well is your vision shared by everyone in your organization? Do your employees vividly remember the color of your balloon?
Do you have questions for us? Contact either Mark Ellsworth or Matt Heemstra at (712) 324-4614.