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  • Erika Clegg

Jim Collins's values and vision (and our purpose)

Multi-millionaire business coach Jim Collins has helped to transform companies across the globe through the actions and philosophies contained in his books, including the classic Good to Great.

One of his most popular theories is the 'hedgehog', in which the intersection of your passions, the things at which you excel, and the demand there is for them, demonstrates where you can hit success. (In case you're wondering too, hedgehog comes from a Greek parable in which the fox knows many things, and the hedgehog knows one clear thing.)


So where does this fit with values? Well, in Collins's new book BE 2.0 he sets out a map for success which draws together many of his established theories into an easily replicable process. Amongst the steps, he recommends that businesses "preserve the core and stimulate progress". The core to which he refers is core values, and it's corporate vision that stimulates progress.


We're great believers in the need for a vision to embed values. Unless there is an exciting goal, it's hard to motivate people to deliver on stretch values - after all, we are all keen to know the reward for our efforts!


It's interesting that he places the values before the vision. Traditionally vision comes first, yet increasingly our experience with clients is that the values are coming into place before the client team is comfortable to set a vision bold enough to be worth the change.


To this, we would add purpose. This is something slightly different. If values are the codes that dictate behaviour, and vision is the end-goal; then purpose is the 'because'.


We'll use ourselves to illustrate the point. Our vision at Larkenby is to transform 100 good companies by 2030, because everything good should flourish. We know that to make this happen we will need to dig deep into our own values, using them to guide our behaviour and our choices: bringing positive energy, seeking (and speaking) truth, igniting others' greatness, keeping our promises, always pressing onwards and leaving things better. Using these values as our guide we will help good things to flourish, and meet the scale of our vision.


So to paraphrase Jim Collins: preserve the core - set, nurture and use your values. Stimulate progress - dare to create a bold vision of success. And agree purpose - make sure you know why you're doing it.


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