Vision Shapes Identity, Identity Determines Direction

By Andrew Grant

I recently stayed at a hotel from a well known international chain in the Middle East. But this particular property appeared to be confused about its mission in life.

Rather than focusing on providing quality accommodation, the managers of the hotel had obviously opted to pull in extra revenue through hosting social activities. After staying in the hotel for a night or two you could easily be forgiven for thinking that the property was more interested in becoming a popular entertainment venue rather than a place where international travellers could get a good night’s sleep.

Every night the nightclub on the ground floor boomed out the Indian version of house music, and every Thursday night a bingo session was set up in the hotel grounds. The bingo night catered to over 1500 people, and had to be set up on the tennis court, around the pool, and directly under most of the guest rooms.

A steady stream of cars arrived early evening and then left again around midnight, the drone of a heavily amplified bingo caller filling in the many hours in between. The grounds were set up on the morning of the Thursday and then cleaned up and packed up during the day on Friday.

An identity crisis

I asked the manager if he was running a hotel or an entertainment venue. “A hotel!” he replied abruptly, obviously offended at the suggestion that the property was being viewed as anything other than that.

I lodged an official complaint.

“If you are running a hotel,” I said, “Your guests will expect a good night’s sleep, and will want easy access to the facilities. Don’t the other guests complain about this also?”

“Well, yes,” he eventually conceded. “We do get complaints about the nightclub each morning and complaints about the Bingo each Friday, but we just give those guests a basket of fruit.” Problem solved… or so he thought.

This hotel was clearly suffering from an ongoing identity crisis. The management did not seem to have identified what the organisation’s key purpose was and the primary focus should be. There was apparently no vision for how the property could provide outstanding client service, and as a result the hotel could not really perform to its best potential. It was always only half full. The staff was only half motivated. The results were mediocre.

No vision, no focus

Organisations without a strong vision will lack focus and produce poor results. Some of these organisations will unconsciously revert to ‘money making’ as their one and only guiding principle, not waking up to the fact that they could in fact be limiting themselves and damaging their reputation in the process. But Jim Collins believes that profit is like oxygen: “Without it, there is no life,” he explains, “But it is not the reason we live”

Sometimes it is only when conflicting areas present themselves that we are forced to take a stand about what our core values are. But we should be reflecting on these values before conflicts arise. We should consider what we want our core values to be – having a vision for the ideal rather than simply reverting to the usual – so that these core values shape our identity and defines our achievement.

Core values matter

Visionary companies don’t see that there needs to be a choice between living to their values or being pragmatic; they see it as a challenge to find pragmatic solutions and behave consistently with their core values and vision.

The same principle can be applied to our individual lives. We can become confused about our roles and responsibilities and unable to perform to maximum potential unless we have a clear idea of who we are and a strong vision for who we want to be.

Only then is it possible to have a clear direction and purpose.

by © Andrew Grant


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