culture shock

Applying Machete Thinking To Your Organization By Derrick Strand

culture shock

As outlined in my last post, the keys to Machete Thinking are:

– Simple, versatile and powerful
– Stands the test of time
– Cuts through barriers
– Clears paths that lead to a destination
– Has an edge
– Edge needs sharpening
– Harvests a well designed effort

Now let’s apply this thinking to create a Machete Vision™.

The word “vision” should evoke positive emotions and feelings, right?  It’s a look into the future that is compelling and exciting.  Unfortunately, most visions and vision statements contain confusing and boring clutter instead of inspiring clarity.

You don’t have to look far for examples.  I randomly selected two Fortune 500 companies and was not disappointed.  Make sure your coffee or tea is full before reading below!

General Motors – Our vision is to be the world leader in transportation products and related services. In order to achieve this vision, we recognize that many issues must be addressed and many goals attained. It is imperative that economic, environmental and social objectives be integrated into our daily business objectives and future planning activities so that we can become a more sustainable company.

Northrup Grumman – Our vision is to be the most trusted provider of systems and technologies that ensure the security and freedom of our nation and its allies. As the technology leader, we will define the future of defense—from undersea to outer space, and in cyberspace.

We will —

  • Conduct ourselves with integrity and live our Company Values
  • Deliver superior program performance
  • Foster an internal environment of innovation, collaboration, and trust

In so doing, Northrop Grumman will become our customers’ partner of choice, our industry’s employer of choice, and our shareholders’ investment of choice.

Are you still awake?  I am just barely and I knew it was coming!

Both visions above violate core tenets of a Machete Vision.  These visions are:

  • Long
  • Boring
  • Void of emotion or feeling
  • Filled with meaningless buzz words (e.g. trusted provider)


After reading vision statements like this, you almost feel like a part of you died in the process!  To really put it into context, think about how excited you’d be to see one of these vision statements at your onboarding class as a new employee.  Wouldn’t you be filled with enthusiasm and excitement?   I didn’t think so!

If your current vision looks frighteningly similar to GM’s or NG’s, don’t despair!  There is hope!

The key components of a Machete Vision are as follows:

  • Simple
  • One sentence or phrase
  • Visual image of a future state
  • Creates energy, enthusiasm
  • Evokes positive emotions
  • Connects with the mission
  • Easy to remember

If the vision isn’t clear, exciting and compelling, why should employees engage in achieving it?  A simple question that is not asked or answered enough.

Some of my favorite Machete Visions of all time are as follows:

Ford (early 1900’s) – Democratize the automobile

Stanford (1940’s) – Become the Harvard of the West

Nike (1960’s) – Crush Adidas

Microsoft (1980’s) – A computer on every desk and in every home running Microsoft software

Nelson Mandela – One team, one country

An Illiteracy Program – In two decades, our services will no longer be needed

As you can see, you can pack a lot of punch into a few words and that’s what you want in a vision………power through simplicity.

Next Steps

First, be clear on the importance of a great Machete Vision so it doesn’t become a meaningless plaque on the wall.  Make sure:

  • it’s a mental picture of the future that evokes positive emotions
  • it provides direction towards a future state that is desirable, exciting and memorable for the entire organization

Second, create or rework your vision by incorporating all the keys to a Machete Vision.  This will be hard!  Stay true to these keys and DO NOT make concessions.  The results will be well worth the effort.

The next installment in this twelve part series is Machete Leadership and would be featured here.

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