I recently attended my church’s vision night and they shared an update with the congregation regarding the church’s vision, mission, core values, and five focus areas for the next year. It occurred to me while listening to my pastor that he very succinctly cascaded a vision for the church and outlined a communication message that was clear, concise, and very easily understood. I realized that one of the missing ingredients from many life sciences organizations going through disruptive change is organizational clarity.
The Overwhelming Importance of VUCA
The average lifespan of an S&P 500 company dropped from 61 years in 1958 to 12 years in 2012. If you translate that to today, it means that 75% of today’s leading companies will be gone in 25 years. With this in mind, in an environment where volatility, uncertainty, complexity, and ambiguity (VUCA) is an acronym that is well known, leaders must focus on the customer experience for external audiences and organizational clarity for employees. Both are key indicators of organizational health and performance, which are often ignored.
To remain competitive in the long run, companies must think about investing time, effort, and resources in driving long-term organizational clarity focused on vision, mission, purpose, strategy, culture, and brand promise. In fact, research conducted by the Metrus Group discovered that only 14% of employees understand the organization’s strategy and less than 10% of all organizations successfully execute the strategy. Those are abysmal numbers, and for an industry going through change, nothing could be more important than defining and driving clarity for your organization and taking ownership in ensuring that there is sustained and persistent communication, which will pay long-term dividends in driving long-term success.
Life sciences organizations are faced with many challenges today, and we increasingly live in a world where we move quickly and expect lasting results. However, to truly drive long-lasting business performance, strategic change, and improved employee engagement, there must be purposeful and sustained communication to employees in order to get buy-in. I would recommend focusing on developing the following:
- Vision: Describes the desired future position of the company.
- Mission: A MissionStatement defines the company’s business, its objectives and its approach to reach those objectives.
- Culture: Refers to the beliefs and behaviors that determine how a company’s employees and management interact and handle outside business transactions.
- Focus Areas: Strategic business priorities. I recommend no more than 3 to 5.
- Brand Promise: Brand promise is one that connects your purpose, your positioning, your strategy, your people, and your customer experience. It enables you to deliver your brand in a way that connects emotionally with your customers and differentiates your brand.
These are all topics that are soft and often impossible to measure. However, success is dependent on converting these values into priorities and action, which if coupled with a long-term communication plan will result in long-term organization success.
So the question you should ask yourself is not, “what’s our strategy?” It is, “how are we communicating our strategy in a sustained way and engaging our employees so we can successfully execute?”