Question 1: Visionary Company
According to Jerry Porras and Jim Collins visionary companies demonstrate a set of characteristics which are a departure from what is the popular myth. Ordinarily, it would be expected that visionary companies would be characterised by the following: presence of a great idea, charismatic and determined leaders, maximization of profits, focus on beating the competitors and the tendency to hire chief executive officers externally.
Contrary to that, Porras and Collins opine that visionary companies are essentially characterised by a number of factors briefly discussed. They insist that visionary companies are premier institutions in their area of specialization. As such, visionary companies usually lead in their industries and always churn out new products. In addition, visionary companies earn the admiration and adoration of peer companies for excellent and moribund performance in the market. The companies would in many cases have made a significant impact in the society around them or the entire world. Finally, Porras and Collins use the life of companies arguing that visionary companies must have been in existence for a number of years.
Question 2: The twelve shuttered myths
The first myth is that it takes a great idea to start a company. It has been proven that many companies originated without necessarily having an idea. HP and Sony are given as examples of companies that started off clueless. The second myth is that visionary companies require great and charismatic leaders. This myth dictates that visionary companies can only be led by visionary and great leaders. However, it has been proven that leadership does not necessarily matter. The third myth is that companies exist for maximization of profits. The myth is based on the business approach in which organizations undertake to pursue profits at any costs. However, this is not the case for visionary companies. The fourth myth is that visionary companies share a subset of core values. It would be expected of visionary companies to have common cores. It should be appreciated that while core values might be similar, unique company cultures easily distorts the similarities across companies. The fifth myth is that the only constant is change. The myth usually is that core values would be susceptible to change which is inevitable. However, core values can last for several years without necessarily changing. The sixth myth is that blue chip companies play it safe. It is usually assumed that successful blue chip companies would limit their risks to the bare minimum. However, these companies are known to take risks. High risks are always associated with high returns.
The seventh myth is that visionary companies are great places to work for everyone. This myth asserts that visionary companies would suit the needs and desires of all kinds of employees. However, such companies only suit people with like minded principles. The eighth myth is that successful companies make brilliant and strategic companies. It is assumed that the companies necessarily engage in complex, strategic planning. The ninth myth is that companies should hire chief executive officers externally. The assumption is that external chief executive officers come in with new ideas and changes. However, even internally sourced executives can initiate organizational changes.
The tenth myth is that companies focus on beating competition. The myth suggests that companies usually endeavour to minimize competition. However, visionary companies are usually consumed by their own activities which do not incorporate competitors’ actions. The eleventh myth is that decisions are specific. The myth suggests that decision making would be definite and certain. However, visionary companies also have their fair share of uncertainty and permissive. The twelfth myth is that visionary statements must be stated. It is assumed that visions must be stated and written down for actualisation. However, a company could be visionary without having stated its visions.
Question 3: Tyranny of the OR
Tyranny of the OR refers to self-imposed limitations by companies relating to the objectives to pursue. Ordinarily, most companies would settle on whether to pursue short term or long term objectives. Usually, the companies believe the realization of a short term objective automatically dispenses with the long term objectives. However, it had been proven that both objectives can be pursued simultaneously.
This can be illustrated in the mentality that characterises companies concerning the pursuit of high quality or low pricing. The typical narrative usually is that pursuit of high quality in production does not blend well with low pricing. Another example could seen in investment decisions. Investments could be triggered for satisfaction of either short or long term objectives. However, it has been proven that investment could serve both long and short term decisions.
Question 4: Genius of the AND
The Genius of the AND advocates for application of a dual approach in the organization. It departs fundamentally from the Tyranny of the OR. It requires for organizations to be able to pursue all their objectives simultaneously without necessarily compromising one or two of the objectives. Accordingly, companies should be able to comfortably pursue both short and long term objectives.
The genius of the AND could be illustrated in a company’s pursuit of both long and short term objectives through comprehensive and well thought out decision making. Similarly, companies could both reduce prices and produce high quality products. The secret lies in the methodology pursued and how strategic company policies are. Finally, some companies make investment decisions that meet both long and short term requirements.
Question 5: Core values
Core values refer to the ideologies on which the company operates. According to Porras and Collins, core values should not be subjected to changes. While strategies, policies and goals can change, core values ought to remain constant. It is the core values that enable the survival and growth of companies. Environments could keep changing, but the company should be able to maintain its core values which essentially form the basis for their identification.
Core values suffice for purposes of focusing the company towards achieving objectives. They lay the conceptual framework from which company objectives are achieved. However, on the overall, core values could be similar across the industries but appear different due to unique organizational cultures.
Question 6: Preserve the core and stimulate progress
Preserving the core is in respect of maintaining core values of companies even in the face of changing times. Naturally, competition, resource availability and market dynamics would compel companies into engaging different models of strategies. Companies find themselves in circumstances where survival necessitates the need for changes. However, in preserving the core, companies are expected to retain their core values while accommodating the changes.
In addition, visionary companies are expected to show a high degree of flexibility. In the need to maintain their visionary status, they must be ready to explore and expand into other areas. For example, the Boeing Company, which is one of the visionary companies according to Porras and Collins, was flexible enough to venture into commercial airlines from its previous military airline specialization. The authors note that Boeing was able to retain its core despite the shift into production of commercial aircraft.
Question 7: Big Harry audacious goals
Big Harry audacious goals refer to company tactic of setting big goals and taking relatively high risks in the market. Ordinarily, blue chip companies are thought to approach the market with a minimize risks perspective. However, it happens that successful and visionary companies actually pursue risky ventures. They maximize profits by setting super high goals even in the eyes of colossal challenges and risks. They then effectively employ strategies that essentially maximize their chances leading into positive outcomes. According to Porras and Collins, the goals are quite ambitious on the surface. At first instance, one is tempted to think the goals would be unachievable given the circumstances prevailing in the market. However, with comprehensive analysis and strategic layout, the goals are possibly achieved. Achievement of the goals requires confidence and a small degree of arrogance.
Companies need to necessarily approach the market with confidence and arrogance while in pursuit of the goals. Further, big Harry audacious goals enable team building and working in groups. Confronted with tough challenges, human beings would want to work together against their perceived common enemy. The authors assert that as such, companies could exploit big Harry audacious goals as a team building mechanism.
Question 8: Cult like cultures
Cult like cultures refers to the innate core values within companies that identify respective Companies. Ordinarily, it is the expectation that employees purpose to observing and maintaining company culture without fail. The culture derives its cult name from the fact that it ought to be fanatically observed by company employees. Cult like culture could be broken into four broad facets. These include a fervent ideology, indoctrination, tightness of fit and elitism. A fervent ideology essentially implies that company core values would be abided to by all employees. The ideologies need to be inbuilt in the company and passed from generation to generation throughout the life of the company. In terms of indoctrination, it is expected of management to inculcate employees into the organization.
The organization need to develop an orientation program that addresses questions of knowledge gaps and misinformation. The tightness of fit requires of non conformist employee to be sacked or fired. The argument for this is that employees would be productive only if they apply themselves fully to their duties and own the organizational objectives and ideals. Lastly, elitism calls for employees belonging to visionary companies to act responsibly full in the realization of the status of their companies. The cult like culture is vital for the sustainability of visionary companies.
Question 9: building a shared vision
The shared vision is build through rearrangement of values so as to facilitate progress. It requires for application of new technologies and management methodologies so as to enable new and innovative approaches of solving the organizational concerns and problems. A shared vision ought to take into consideration company long term objectives.
Question 10: Prevention from the use of the Genius of the AND
Leaders in the United States of America are prevented from using the Genius of the AND because of their cling to the Tyranny of the OR. In essence, leaders are fearful of the psychological and social effects of multitasking when in pursuit of company objectives. Culturally, company managers are often fearful of embracing the approach of dual pursuit of relatively conflicting policies and objectives.
Abe, J. M., Bassett, D. A., & Dempse, P. E. (2012). Business Ecology. New York: Routledge.
Collins, J., & Porras, J. I. (2011). Built to Last: Successful Habits of Visionary Companies. New York: HarperCollins.
Henry, A. (2008). Understanding Strategic Management. Cambrigde: Oxford University Press.