Question & Answer: You are the President of a large plumbing company serving Middle-Tennessee…..

You are the President of a large plumbing company serving Middle-Tennessee. The plumbing company is a successful family business, and you are the founder’s child. In recent years, the company’s growth has slowed dramatically, as the company saturated the market. You and the Board of Directors (BOD) have decided that the company should explore adding other services (e.g., electrical services, a/c and heating services, cleaning services, as a few possibilities). You must lead your management team and BOD in planning that transition.

As the leader of this business, it is vital that you lead your management team in developing a mission for the company, a mission that relates to an expanded version of the company, a company including more than just plumbing services. Related to Principle 1 on page 77 of the article (Develop an Overarching Identity), provide three specific leadership steps you would engage to develop an effective and overarching mission and communicate that mission to the company as a whole (all employees). In other words – how would your lead your BOD and management team through the process of developing a new vision? Use bullet points with complete sentences.

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Principle 1 from the article is below.

PRINCIPLE 1 Develop an Overarching Identity The importance of properly framing your organization’s identity is well known. In his seminal 1960 HBR article, “Marketing Myopia,” Ted Levitt argued that the U.S. railway companies failed to survive the rise of the motor car and the passenger jet in large part because they defi ned themselves too narrowly—by the assets they had built up rather than by what they did with those assets. They saw themselves as railway companies rather than transportation companies. It’s the kind of mistake companies still make. Companies that develop overarching identities avoid this mistake. A broader identity gives units
permission to engage in opposing strategies—to exploit existing products and services while simultaneously exploring new off erings and business models. In just this way, the Ball Company has been able to successfully reinvent itself over more than 100 years. Its evolution from wooden buckets to glass jars to metal cans to plastic bottles was in part rooted in the fi rm’s overarching aspiration to be the “world’s best container company.” Mike Lawrie created just such an overarching identity at Misys. The fi rm had grown by acquiring software assets and building a large customer base for its proprietary products. Lawrie refocused the company on its customers’ mission-critical problems and embraced open source technology as a new way to help customers solve them. As the company’s executives began to think of their fi rm as one that solved industrywide problems rather than as a vendor of software applications, new areas of innovation emerged. The banking unit, for instance, developed a product that enables retail banks to bring off erings to market faster, by challenging some of the software industry’s standard approaches. At LexisNexis’s Martindale-Hubbell division, CEO Phil Livingston faced a similar tension between current and future demands. He transformed his business unit by broadening its identity from a publisher of legal directories to a web-based marketing business for lawyers. His integrative aspiration to create leads for lawyers opened up a range of new marketing- related services for law firms that has made his unit the fastest-growing one in the LexisNexis portfolio.

Expert Answer

They have very narrowly defined themselves as plumbing company. What they actually are : “troubleshooters for household challenges” They should define their mission and vision according to that. One of the mission can be “We serve households for their domestic needs”. This vision is quite broader as may includes needs ranging from mowing lawns to babysitting. Hence, they have to keep it broader and at the same time, they should concentrate on household repair works like plumbing, electricity, providing helping hands etc.

Mission and vision needs buy in from all. Hence, it needs to be a broad based. They should start with a basic premise and then start seeking inputs from different stakeholders too. Once they have three or four broader themes, they should see which one is the best:

  1. Easiest to understand, easy to implement and everyone can identify with it.
  2. Closely linked with existing works so that there are no confusion happens in mind of customers.

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