I wrote this blog a fair while ago – about what I called “The Transformers Debacle”, but as I work through many years of Rocking Rose, and making it past a few more than a couple of years around, I have really been thinking of this blog, and my thoughts around having vision, and a vision. So here’s an updated article for 2023. ( and I still feel very let down by that godawful movie).
Transformers : The Last Knight is terrible, it’s a transformers debacle.
There I said it. As a die-hard fan of the franchise (since childhood) the movie was painful to watch, excruciating to dissect afterwards, and in a last cathartic attempt to get some value out of the dollars I spent on a 3D IMAX ticket … I am throwing down some thoughts and lessons for business owners and entrepreneurs.
I’ve written a full review which I have never published, and won’t ever show to a single soul. It is so vicious and unrelenting in its criticism. Yes, that’s how much I, a lifelong fan of the franchise disliked this movie.
The Main Bullet points are this :
- The editing is shockingly bad
- The story-line is disjointed, lacking a single coherent narrative
- The script is so bad, I’d be tempted to say they filmed on Improv Night right after legalising good ole M-J and dishing out a few free samples.
- The “Strong Women” ( i.e “We’re so Over the sexist 90’s” ) are ham-fisted and clumsy.
- The only female ‘baddie’ is a sexy-as Great Deceiver. Very telling boys, very telling.
If you really want to, you can read the terrible reviews ( 5.2 out of 10 average on IMDB, and 27/100 on Meta Critic)
So, the question is , why did I mention business and vision, and what does this terrible movie have to do with all that?
The business of running a business
The transformers movie from 2017 is a chilling, and blunt example of what happens when there is no vision at the top ( i.e. from the founders, or the executive team) .
We have a couple of possible scenarios for our awful movie :
- Michael Bay and the Producers had different visions for this movie
- Michael Bay and the Producers had a vision but didn’t communicate it properly to the rest of the production and filming team
- Michael Bay didn’t have a vision for this movie
In the context of this movie, The Vision would a single compelling story-line.
Whichever of the above are true doesn’t really matter much – because the outcome is the same. A big messy movie, with gaping plot holes, terrible editing, horrendously disjointed scenes that don’t propel any kind of coherent narrative, and it is, [flogging a dead horse here…] a transformers debacle.
In the world of business – you pretty much have the same challenge. Your vision is your internal narrative, from which springs the narrative that feeds and informs your pitch, your marketing, your business stories (you always have multiple stories, especially in sales) – and – the language and tone of your communications, in real human terms, with your clients. And that vision, whether you communicate it explicitly or not, had better be coherent, and authentic. Anything less is guaranteed not to resonate with people. No matter how many fancy marketeers you hire.
You need to know it and feel it. You need to own it. You need to live it. You need to breathe it.
You also need to coherently, succinctly, repeatedly, and with a great amount of grace and sincerity – communicate that single vision and story to your team members, your clients, your partners, your vendors, and anyone else that comes into your sphere of business.
Yes – you can run a business without giving this vision stuff much thought.
Yes, you can make widgets and sell them cheaply, and cut costs and get operational efficiencies —
You can never, however, achieve the dizzying heights of success that are possible without having, communicating, and inhabiting your vision. Your vision should infest every single aspect of your business operations. And I do use that word infest quite deliberately. If your vision is not embedded into the DNA of the business you are building, mate, you are quite simply cooked.
So how do you go about this whole process of infesting your business operations with your vision?
There are two things really, and they sound so simple. But don’t be fooled, they are as difficult to do as they are easy to write.
First up – you need to Be the vision.
This is not the same as telling it. It’s not instructing staff on what to parrot back to clients when they ask about service. It’s not sticking up signs around the the office saying “Our vision and mission …. “. Although that last one is pretty helpful as an affirmation and lends itself to beautiful social media fodder.
You also cannot hire a consultant to define the vision for you. You can hire a consultant to help you identify it, but they can’t do it for you. It’s also why your vision absolutely cannot be “Make Money”. If your internal narrative is all about money. Well, we all know what the world thinks of those types of people.
Making money in a business is a given. Working towards profitability is a given. Even in a purpose driven business, or an “profit for good” business, making more money than you spend is a given.
Every other business needs to make money in order to continue existing. There is nothing unique in that. Making Money purely for its own sake is what led to the “transformers debacle” because there was no other purpose other than to put a movie out. Don’t make the same mistake.
You must be the vision of your company; in every word you speak, and every piece of work that leaves your hands. If that is consistent then it will infect and spread through every single bit your business. You can tell people WHY you do things, and they may or may not remember you for it ; but if you show them with your actions that it is true; that is so much more powerful and credible.
The second thing is you need to write down HOW you want things done.
In corporate speak – you need to have processes and procedures.
Sounds like an onerous task. Well, it can be if you do it the corporate way. It doesn’t have to be.
Once you have settled on a process for something, then write down three to five steps of WHAT to do. No more than five, no less than three. If you need more steps, it’s either too complicated, or more likely, you’re jamming in more than one process into a single document.
Take each WHAT step and expand out sub-points of “how to do this step”. Include things like how you want clients to feel, and the tone of voice to use in communications. If you want people to do things the way you would, you need to give them an instruction manual. Otherwise they will do it the best way that they see how, and that may not match the vision of your company.
If you’ve made it this far, writing down how and what you want things done, you may have identified bottlenecks, or place where work could be automated. Consider taking some of the grunt work, that is easily automated, and doing exactly that, even something as simple a implementing better security could make a huge difference [ See How to automate your online booking system for small business, or Why you need a password manager]
Be the vision of your company, show the world your “Why”, by your everyday actions. And make sure that vision is trickling down out of you every single damn day so that you are not the next “Transformers Debacle!”