Advanced Manufacturing

How Vision and Technology Can Turn Your Managers into Leaders

Working has changed a lot in a very short period of time.

Not so long ago, you reported to work, talked to your boss, received your orders for the day and then executed. During the day, the boss would stop by and make sure you were on course, not drifting off in some useless direction. For most folks the why of things wasn’t as import as the what. Tell me what to do, and I’ll get it done.

Most people didn’t have to think much about things, they just had to deliver.

This model was fine for a time. People weren’t supposed to provide input, feedback or take initiative with new and different ways to doing things. You did your job, your subordinates did their jobs and your boss did his or her job.

Question Authority

Many folks who grew up during the ‘60s will remember the bumper sticker that admonished us to Question Authority.  This was probably one of the more misunderstood elements of that era’s so called countercultural philosophy. While many assumed it meant that all authority was wrong, it really meant that blind acceptance was wrong. The quote is attributed to Benjamin Franklin who taught the practice of skeptical inquiry in everything from nature to politics.  Put another way, it meant that the “why” of things was as important as the thing itself.

If nothing else, understanding the Why of something that equipped you to be better at getting the What done properly.

Most companies have reduced this idea to the practice of establishing a Vision Statement and a Mission Statement. The Vision Statement tells all what the company is striving to be in the future. It is the ultimate goal if you will. The Mission Statement provides guidance as to how the vision will be attained.

Managers and directors are sure to have spent time in planning meetings meant to underscore the importance of the vision and the specifics in terms of the mission for the short to medium term future.

They in turn develop their own visions for how their little corner of the world will contribute to the fulfillment of that overall corporate vision.  Now employees within that manager’s area will be better equipped to do their own jobs knowing what the manager’s personal vision is as well as the overall vision of the organization.

The Technology of Vision

For managers and directors this will involve more than creating nice cards to hang around the office. Understanding their own vision is important but understanding how to share that vision is important as well. Warren Bennis defines Leadership as the ability to turn vision into reality. This is where technology steps up.

Bennis also tells us that managers accept the status quo and leaders change it.  In our Lean world, this is no longer acceptable. Managers must develop their visions and must turn them into reality. Much of what management is all about is finding ways to accomplish that.

Perhaps you are a sales manager and your vision is to have the most responsive sales force in your industry. Technology can help you attain that vision. Equipping each sales rep with a mobile phone contributes greatly to their accessibility. Accessibility contributes to responsiveness in as much as it enables people to be responsive in situation where they would otherwise be out of pocket.

The phone won’t make the rep responsive, it will help or aide the rep to be responsive.

If your vision is error free transactions with your customers, CPQ helps you attain that vision by eliminating pricing and configuration errors. So their enhanced responsiveness is accompanied by error free responsiveness.

What if your vision is better penetration of markets previously underserved?

CRM systems can help you fulfill that vision with marketing programs aimed at those selected market segments. If you have only served grocery stores in the past but want to see your product moving into convenience stores and drug stores, CRM can identify the companies and contacts you need to start working to accomplish that.

Reinforcing Vision with Technology

Today managers carry the load for initially evaluating technology and perhaps even testing it in a pilot. But, they also must learn to interface with and work with IT. BYOD is DOA if IT is not onboard. Indeed, IT is in its own transition from being a mere service department to becoming the brokers of technology and advisors to management at the highest levels according to Joe McKendrick, a noted author and speaker on innovation and technology in a recent piece he authored in Forbes.

This is important because as wonderful as vision based management is, it does have a weakness. By themselves, vision statements tend to become blurred over time, perhaps forgotten. If nothing else they remain a simple nice sounding statement with no immediate application to the individuals doing their jobs.

When you hand someone a vision like, the most responsive sales force in the industry, people will smile, nod and tell you how smart you are for thinking of that. When you hand them a mobile phone with the vision statement and an instruction that no more than 24 hours will go by before you respond to any phone message, the idea becomes more tangible.

Likewise, conveying your passion regarding error free price quotes is much more understandable, and actionable, if it is backed up with technology in the form of mobile platforms equipped with CPQ tools.

People are not drones and they will share and embrace your vision. But, they will do it more readily when you hand them the tool that turns that vision into practice.

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