In 1961 John F. Kennedy put forth the idea of sending a man to the moon and bringing him back safely before the end of the decade. The American people were no doubt moved by this vision. But frankly he received much opposition from Congress due to the Cold War and the fear of technological failure.
A team of legislators were sent to Cape Canaveral to determine whether the funding should be allocated for the project. One day Florida Senator George Smathers, a member of this team, was touring the facility. He slipped away from the group of dignitaries for a moment to get a drink of water. Attempting to rejoin his group he became lost and found himself wandering the halls. The place was immaculate. It looked to be sanitized. Suddenly he came upon a woman sweeping-up and he explained his situation to her. She seemed to know her way around the complex and quickly told him how to rejoin his party. Smathers, impressed with the woman’s knowledge asked her, “What is it that you do here?” He was astounded by what she told him: “Why sir, I am part of a team helping to put a man on the moon and bring him back safely.”Smathers went back to Washington with a renewed fervor in his heart for the lunar project. He told his colleagues, “If the janitor at Cape Canaveral has this kind of sense of mission, what might the scientists and astronauts be like?”This simple cleaning women understood her humble job of sweeping-up to be far more than it appeared to an outsider. She was an important part of the Apollo project. Do you think that, as a result she was far more committed to her job? Do you think she went out of her way to do an extra great job of cleaning up? You bet she did. Her answer showed her deep understanding of her “personal internal vision.”Please understand I am not talking about a corporate vision or mission. Not that a corporate vision/mission is not necessary. On the contrary it is the first step in organizations developing their personal internal visions. But today many corporate visions or missions have become more like slogans than anything else. A PIV, or “Personal Internal Vision”, is a one-on-one relationship between you and your job. For that cleaning women that might have meant having the floors shine, the porcelain gleam and the corridors sparkle. What is it for you? Or if you’re a business owner or manager what does it mean for each one of your people?The purpose of a PIV is to give people the freedom they need to succeed. It allows them to take full responsibility for their choices. This is really the only way to create an environment of accountability. When a company asks their people to develop their own personal internal visions, they also give them the freedom to break the bonds of authority and excel beyond what might be expected from management.The fact is that accountability and responsibility lies with those closest to the task. Owning their job and future allows someone to let go of the idea that they need someone to look to for direction or control. It allows people to be responsible to the entire organization and the customers rather than their manager or supervisor. It takes the focus off of doing things right or by the book. It puts the focus on doing the RIGHT things. This improves decision making, performance and productivity.Improved performance and increased productivity aren’t the only benefits of a PIV program. Implementing PIV allows people to improve their skills by taking personal risks that will benefit the organization. They become more trustworthy and more trusting of others. They tend to hold themselves to higher standards and operate with greater integrity. They are often willing to put the interests of others above their own. This makes sense if you think about it. When their OWN success is at stake rather than some stranger’s company, do you think they will make better decisions and operate with greater commitment? Of course.In fact, in the coming economy, the only alternative to implementing a PIV program will be increased employee turnover, continuing resentment and ultimate stagnation. Don’t take my word for it. Ask the folks at Southwest Airlines, Harley Davidson, Nordstrom, Dell Computers and the list goes on. The bottom-line is that having a PIV program can be the difference between achieving your company’s goals in terms of financial growth, manpower development and customer satisfaction.If not for that cleaning women’s PIV, might there be a Russian flag on the moon today?I hope that this “Business Update” has been helpful in assisting you to improve the performance of your organization. For more information on how the Small Business Advisory Network assists companies in improving their performance, please feel free to contact us at 310-320-8190 or email firstname.lastname@example.orgMark Deo