Four-year-old Max wants to be a firefighter. His friend, Isabelle, thinks she would make a fantastic astronaut. We learn early on to develop visions for ourselves. Setting goals—keeping our eyes on a prize worth attaining—is an ingrained human behaviour. And Bechtle is no different, having pursued lofty targets ever since it was a wee company. Founders Ralf Klenk and Gerhard Schick formulated their Vision 2000 just five years after Bechtle opened its doors. By the turn of the millennium, they wanted to be earning 100 million Deutsche Marks annually and have taken their company public. That was quite a mountain to climb back in 1988, requiring courage and a great deal of ambition. But these two were visionaries. They knew how to manage the balancing act of a corporate vision: defining a specific reference point to work towards while also setting the bar high enough to spark passion and serve as a true North Star.
Visions as a gauge for success.
Humans will always be more fascinated with the idea of settling Mars than reclaiming land along coastal regions. We have an innate craving to pursue the unknown. But we also like to know what lies ahead, so we make sure to pack a spyglass for the journey. The art of crafting a far-sighted, ambitious and plausible corporate vision lies in toeing the line between eager enthusiasm and down-to-earth pragmatism. After all, you want to set goals that are actually achievable. For top management, being able to implement their vision is the ultimate gauge of success. Falling short means explaining what went wrong and dealing with disappointed stakeholders.
Bechtle’s targets for 2000 and 2010 were a genuine challenge, but we reached them both times. Considering that our goals for the dawn of the new millennium were set 12 years out, our results were outstanding. Certain Vision 2000 goals were attained ahead of schedule and others achieved right on time. And 2010 targets were reached only one year late. A typical characteristic of Bechtle’s visions is that they eschew vague pronouncements in favour of clear, measurable objectives. These objectives are pursued with dogged determination, deviating neither to the left nor the right. Challenges are met head-on.
Open communication is absolutely vital. Employees must know which milestones were reached when, which obstacles are currently blocking the way and how to remove them. That’s why Bechtle engages in constructive dialogue, jointly plans each year as it comes and defines intermediate steps. Pursuing our vision is a dynamic process involving many people. The better each individual understands what they can and must contribute, the better they can focus their efforts, all the while looking forward together.
French author Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, famous for writing The Little Prince, distilled the power of a strong vision into an evocative image: “If you want to build a ship, don’t drum up people to collect wood, and don’t assign them tasks and work, but rather teach them to long for the vast and endless sea.” A corporate vision does exactly this, simply dotting the horizon with specific goals to guide the journey.
Bechtle has already set its sights on achieving an annual revenue of 10 billion euros by 2030. We want to lead key IT markets and further our profitable growth. And we want to continue serving our customers as an independent partner offering technology to drive their success. Above all, we want to do so with passion, exquisite skill and relentless foresight.
Using our metaphorical spyglass, Bechtle identifies the IT industry’s future hot topics and business areas so that we can prepare for them. Then we work out the details, translating ideas into tangible plans and measures until everyone knows exactly what needs to be done.
Oftentimes, working towards a corporate vision is like ascending a summit. As a matter of fact, Bechtle’s first vision was accompanied by a depiction of the Matterhorn. As we lift our spyglass, the metaphor comes to life. We see the cross marking the summit, the ultimate goal of our efforts. The expedition team at the base camp has a plan of how to get there. Roles have been assigned—who will be the lead climber and who will bring up the rear. We all know we are dependent on each another, and so we work together. Although we prepare ourselves mentally for falling rocks and avalanches, we nevertheless hope for good weather. Possible dangers are communicated down the line as quick responses can make the difference between life and death. A close-knit, well-oiled team is paramount and so we continue our steady advance.
The right gear can make or break a trek—it’s the difference between reaching a goal and not. In the business world, this “gear” is our corporate culture. Instead of geographic coordinates, we are led by values that guide us along our path to ever-higher goals. Regardless of how diverse our team members and responsibilities are, we all share the same attitude, are united by unassailable values and follow rules. This—and only this—enables us to pull in the same direction. By design, dispersed structures like Bechtle’s preclude the ability to control every detail. It is therefore crucial that everyone knows what to do.
Hard work is also part of the deal. Yet, when the summit is reached, everyone celebrate, astounded at what teamwork can do. We pause to catch our breath and before we know it, we’re already planning our next climb, because there are always greater heights to scale. Each vision is just one step along the business journey. Bechtle has already set its sights on achieving an annual revenue of 10 billion euros by 2030. We want to lead key IT markets and further our profitable growth. And we want to continue serving our customers as an independent partner offering technology to drive their success. Above all, we want to do so with passion, exquisite skill and relentless foresight.
Today’s companies benefit from a wealth of information to anticipate what lies ahead. Business intelligence analysis enables management to fine-tune the company’s direction using key performance indicators, so they can home in on their corporate vision with absolute confidence.
People need dreams to propel them forward. Companies are no different, except that we call these dreams “visions”. But behind any worthwhile vision is the promise to transform opportunity into reality. Such a vision must be accompanied by goals, genuinely embodied values and a suitable, robust corporate culture.
People need dreams to propel them forward. Companies are no different, except that we call these dreams “visions”. But behind any worthwhile vision is the promise to transform opportunity into reality. Such a vision must be accompanied by goals, genuinely embodied values and a suitable, robust corporate culture that can withstand turbulent times while also maintaining its vigour when the going is easy. This combination is what gives a vision its strength, paving the way to success. Dr Joël Luc Cachelin, a Swiss economist and futurist, describes it as follows: “Times of transformation and crisis create a huge need for guidance. The future will come one way or another. But it will belong to those who tell the best stories at the right time.”
Martin Luther King Jr had a dream. Former German Chancellor Helmut Schmidt once quipped that people with visions should see a doctor. Steve Jobs showed us all how far a vision can take you. A settlement on Mars is no longer the stuff of science fiction. And Bechtle continues to march onward, guided by a clear vision.
Bechtle update editorial team
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Published on Apr 11, 2019.