Many years ago, I worked for a large supermarket in the UK. It was going through its first (of many) transformations, to scope out this transformation it involved pretty much the whole Company in how it should evolve and what the Company should start looking like in order to grow and keep up with the competition.
All around the UK the Company organised team events of a couple of hours per event for vision planning. It was not a complicated process, was huge fun for those involved, highly effective and (accidently?) resulted in a great amount of team building.
We were all ushered into a room not knowing what to expect, perhaps another boring training session where we were talked at and not asked our opinion, however we were presented with an arts and craft session!
Three of the walls in a large open meeting room were covered in flip chart paper, on the floor were magazines, scissors and glue. Our task was to fill the 3 walls with our thoughts cut from the magazines – no handwritten words were allowed, if we wanted to express a word, we needed to find it in a magazine or newspaper. The 3 areas we were asked for our thoughts on were:
- Where the company used to be – the history
- Where the Company was today – the current
- Where the Company needed to move to in the next 5 years – the future
The result was that all around the country, its Employees were capturing the Companies rich and long history, telling the management where they thought the Company was currently viewed from the perspective of its customers and employees and then advising them of the innovation it needed to implement in the coming years to keep progressing, growing and serving its customers to stay ahead of the competition (which was and still is fierce).
To be so involved in this process, when I was standing on a very low rung on the Company ladder, helping in the shaping of the Company transformation over the next 5 years was exciting, huge fun and made me very committed to the Company for the next 10 years. I thought I understood why the Company started making the business decisions it did and made me feel more likely to roll up my sleeves and get the job done, even though I was less than a cog in the very large system.
So why don’t more Companies involve their employees in these types of exercises?
- It’s a very inexpensive exercise to create, all you need are magazines, newspapers, paper and glue! The amount of space required depends on the number of your employees, in fact, you can easily do this exercise in your own office, creating a piece of art on a spare wall!!!
- It’s a great way to get cross departments working together to understand the Companies shared vision. Splitting team up and getting them together in a small group gets people sharing ideas and allows them to understand the pressures each other face.
- Employees feel huge amount of involvement and engagement with the Company as you asked for their opinions and ideas – we hardly ever do this, too busy trying to train or just get the job done, we forget that you have intelligent people in the group, why not just ask them. The hidden plus is that you gain the ongoing commitment and retention.
Employee engagement and commitment is something that all Companies are trying to increase and perhaps they should embrace the idea of involving them in the vision of the Company over the next 5 years.
Within Gazelles One Page Business Planning, knowing where the Company is heading in the coming years is one of the foundations in setting strategic planning. Having the whole team onboard with that vision will help form and ensure that the vision become a reality as they are involved and committed from the beginning.
This is also a great exercise to use to discover the Company values. If you are planning to grow the team and keen to make sure that the culture of the Company stays as it is, you need to be clear what makes the culture what it is today – this is often difficult to put into words. Get the team together and draw an outline of a person on the wall – ask the team what traits they see the team current has and stick pictures to the wall around the shape to explain what they have. This then forms the culture map for your business, is the beginning of your Company values and gives you a recruitment checklist to recruit to.