Jodi leaned over to Eric while they sat at the picnic table on the edge of the beach. “This place looks pretty sketch don’t you think?”, she asked. “Nah, this is the real deal. Fish tacos from a beachside stand are always the best, especially washed down with a few Coronas.”, Eric said, lifting his eyebrows in a mischievous manner. “I wonder if Thatcher would be cool with us drinking one?” Eric didn’t have to wait long to find that out. Thatcher walked up carrying a steel bucket filled with icy Coronas. “You can’t have fish tacos at the beach without a Corona.” Eric and Jodi started laughing. “What?”, Thatcher asked. “We were talking about our chances of being able to persuade you into letting us drink a couple.”, Eric replied. “Yeah”, Thatcher chuckled, “You must feel like Andy Dufresne getting served an ice cold beer “courtesy of the hardest screw in Shawshank State Prison.” “Hardly”, Eric laughed, “ But, that’s the best movie ever.”
Just then, a middle-aged man appeared holding a large tray of fish tacos, along with a couple of baskets of chips and salsa. “Here you go Thatcher, just the way you like em.”, the man offered. The tacos were on homemade corn tortillas, drizzled with a Baja sauce and topped with cilantro. “Awesome, thanks, Juan, they look great. “, Thatcher responded. As Juan walked away, Thatcher said to the group, “Juan’s daughter first took me here about 10 years ago. She went to Stanford with me. Not only does Juan make killer fish tacos, but this little business allowed him to put his daughter through Stanford, which is really cool.” Once everyone had a basket in front of them and a beer opened, Thatcher asked, “Are you guys okay if we make this a working lunch? I just have so much I want to cover, and I’d hate to lose the momentum.” Everyone nodded and Thatcher continued.
“Before we broke for lunch, Don asked me to explain what I meant by PeeVOP. P.V.V.O.P. is an acronym that stands for Purpose, Vision, Values, Outcomes and Path. Let me share a little story. When I was a kid, I couldn’t wait to drive. My favorite ride at Six-Flags was the one that featured replicas of old cars powered by the equivalent of lawnmower engines. There were bridges to drive over and tunnels to drive through. It was the coolest thing in the world. Running through the middle of the entire track was a guide rail. If I over-steered, the guide rail would prevent me from going off course. It was a win-win. I got to drive and enjoy a sense of freedom and independence, and my parents had the confidence that I was not going to come around a corner too hot and plunge off a bridge or into the wall of a tunnel. That’s what PeeVOP does for our organization. It’s our guide rail. It’s what will allow our employees the freedom and independence they want while providing us with the surety that we’ll remain on course and our business won’t plunge off any bridges or careen into any tunnel walls.” The group just looked back with curious stares. “Maybe I should of let you all finish your first beer first.”, Thatcher admitted somewhat sheepishly.
“Okay, I guess I shouldn’t try to explain this from the perspective of a 9-year-old little boy.”, Thatcher offered as he squeezed a lime into his Corona and took a sip. “We’ve been talking about our Brand Promise. That’s similar to our Purpose and why I started us there. Our Purpose is our call to action, the thing that gets us up in the morning excited about coming to work. It’s our “Why”. I think we can build on what Don offered, that our brand is a trusted friend who you feel comfortable inviting into your home. We will come back to that as we work through this process. Once we have our Purpose clearly defined, we need to craft our Vision. Our Vision is how we choose to define success. I mean, it’s kind of hard to run a race if you don’t know what the finish line looks like, right? Let’s say we pick this company up and move it into the future five, ten or even fifteen years. What does it look like, what would we have accomplished? That’s what I mean by Vision.”
“Now, once we know why we are here and where we are going, we need to add in a few more things. The first is our Values. These Values define who we are, how we interact with others and what we stand for. In my opinion, you can’t have more than four or five core values. These are the unbreakable, unbendable roots of the organization. In my experience, it’s a lack of awareness or commitment to a rigid set of values that leads to corporate and executive greed and malfeasance. I doubt that Volkswagen or Enron were all that clear or committed to their Values. “ Don snickered, “I don’t think our politicians are all that clear on their’s either.” “A toast”, Jodi offered, “To good values.” Everyone raised their beers, clinked them with one another and laughed.
“If we know why we’re here, where we’re going, and how we are going to act, then we need to know that we’ve actually arrived. Those are Outcomes. Our desired outcomes are the proof that we’ve achieved our Vision, that we’ve crossed the finish line. If our Vision is to be the number one brand, then Outcomes, which need to be specific and measurable, might include a market share number and/or a revenue target. Finally, as we discussed, our Vision might be five to fifteen years away. Therefore, we need milestones that provide us the needed feedback that we’re heading in the right direction. That’s our Path. A set of explicit action steps and results that are set up in short increments, if accomplished, would be indicative we’re heading in the right direction. Does this make sense to you all?”
“I get it”, Gail offered, “but, it does seem like a lot of work.” “In some ways it is”, Thatcher agreed, “but, it is a lot less cumbersome than a Strategic Plan, and it offers the freedom and independence that fosters accountability and engagement. If we have a guide rail that we can test our ideas or activities against, it’ll keep us on course, but at the same time, give us a little room in the process. Working to define our PeeVOP is how we will be spending the majority of our remaining time. So, I guess I should just shut up, let you eat these world class tacos and enjoy your beers.”