Guiding Growth: How Vision Keeps Companies on Course

Mark Lipton, Author Business School Press $29.95 (292p) ISBN 978-1-57851-706-0
Corporate""vision"" is one of management theory's less coherent concepts, and this ambitious study attempts to make it a little clearer. Lipton, a management professor and founder of an eponymous consulting firm, argues that growing companies require a vision--a""precise idea of their raison d'etre, strategy and values"" that is both inspiring and concrete enough to guide action. His aim herein is to give readers the""nitty-gritty details"" of formulating and implementing such a vision. Despite flowcharts, checklists and planning exercises, however, Lipton draws his""vision development process"" in strokes that some readers will find too broad--e.g., a company's vision should""describe a future that is more attractive than the present,"" and its leaders should recognize that diverse viewpoints and debate are essential to vision development. The exemplary vision statements Lipton cites are either blandly generic (""Satisfying all of our stakeholders and achieving our standards is our goal"") or spicily generic (""Involve agile, kick-butt teams to strategize, execute, & improve process""). Lipton also covers familiar but laudable ideas from what might be termed the""human potential"" school of management, which emphasizes the nurturing of employees' talents and commitment. Drawing on brief case studies of firms like Continental Airlines, 3M, and sportswear maker Oakley (which rewarded one talented worker with a puppy), Lipton encourages businesses to loosen rigid hierarchies, promote egalitarianism, give workers permission to innovate, pay decent wages, avoid layoffs and foster an""almost cult-like"" organizational culture. The enthusiastic theorizing about vision may get a bit tiresome, but managers and entrepreneurs will still find much to reflect upon here.
Reviewed on: 12/09/2002
Release date: 12/01/2002
Genre: Nonfiction
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