Developing a Compelling Vision in Agile Management

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  • 0:04 A Compelling Vision in Action
  • 1:10 The Purpose of a…
  • 1:46 Making a…
  • 3:21 Developing…
  • 3:56 A Vision for Future Products
  • 5:21 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Scott Tuning

Scott has been a faculty member in higher education for over 10 years. He holds an MBA in Management, an MA in counseling, and an M.Div. in Academic Biblical Studies.

It's not enough to simply have a vision. This lesson explores how to make a vision compelling by using a variety of creative tools to communicate its importance and impact.

A Compelling Vision in Action

Ken Thiry isn't your run-of-the-mill executive. The CEO of dialysis giant DaVita may be one of the most unorthodox chief officers in the country. Thiry has gone to extraordinary lengths to communicate his vision for the company to the thousands of DaVita employees. One video posted to the internet shows the 61-year-old executive making a truly grand entrance to a large corporate event by popping up from a stage floor like a jack-in-the-box. The surprise appearance included fireworks, thematic music, and some somersaults from the executive-turned-musketeer. He's also known for pushing the company song, On DaVita, on DaVita, at management training sessions.

Why in the world would a 61-year-old CEO making more than $15 million per year dress up like a musketeer and prompt his administrators to sing the company song? The answer is straightforward: in order to build profound enthusiasm and passion for the company's vision. When Thiry took over DaVita in 1999, the company was failing, and its stock was selling for $2 a share; by 2011, the stock was $83 a share.

The Purpose of a Compelling Vision

What characteristics make this company turn-around possible? Although there is more than one factor, the cornerstone of this transformation is communicating the company's vision. In this context, a vision is a shared goal. Maybe you're saying to yourself, ''OK, sure, a shared vision is good. What does a corporate vision have to do with costumes and company tunes?'' The answer may be more simple than you might think. Thiry is making the company's vision compelling to his staff. A vision becomes compelling when the employees are informed and supportive of the company's direction, and when they genuinely understand their role in the process.

Making a Vision-Centered Culture

It's not enough, however, to simply have a compelling vision. To have a positive impact and realize the vision, the vision must be something you are. We might call that a culture of vision. A culture of vision means that the vision is a part of everything that the company does. Imagine working in an organization where the vision isn't just printed on the letterhead. Imagine what a workplace looks like when its vision is at the center of every decision, large or small.

One of the ways DaVita's CEO incorporates vision into the culture of the company is to replace traditional business titles like manager, director, or employee with titles that are more reflective of the vision for a human-oriented healing institution.

  • Instead of ''employees,'' DaVita has ''teammates.'' It's not a silly nuance; employees go to work to get paid, but teammates take the field to win. DaVita uses the ''teammate'' vocabulary to convey that every single employee is working toward the same vision.
  • Instead of ''facilities'' or ''dialysis centers,'' DaVita has ''villages.'' People on dialysis spend several hours a week hooked up to a machine. In a facility, dialysis patients sit in their chairs wishing they were anywhere else. In a village, patients look forward to their visits with ''friends.''
  • Instead of ''managers'' or ''administrators,'' DaVita promotes ''citizen leaders.'' These individuals are reminded constantly by their own title that they are indeed leaders, but they are members of the community first.

Although it seems like we're camping out on DaVita's methods, it's merely an example of what many companies are doing to build a vision-oriented culture.

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