Vision and Values

John Caple




When Caple was standing in line at his bank recently, the teller asked the man in front of him if he could identify himself. The man reached in a bag he was carrying, pulled out a mirror, looked at himself in the mirror, and said, “Oh, yeah! That’s me!” In this presentation, Caple will have members look at the face in the mirror to help determine who they are. Who you are as an individual relates to who you are as part of a family, an organization or business, and a culture.


Identification of who you are begins with a look in the mirror — with self-examination. What do you see when you look at the face in the mirror? This presentation focuses on values and vision as two of the core ideas on which we build our identities and our lives.


The presentation looks at values in the context of a vision plan. The vision plan is a better way to lead than the traditional strategic plan (a World War II era concept). The word strategy comes from a Greek word meaning “house of the generals” — it is both elitist and sexist. Vision, on the other hand, comes from the Bible: “Your elders shall dream dreams, your young shall see visions” (Book of Prophets: Joel, Chapter 2).


There are two main questions you need to answer for your vision plan:


  1. Where are you going? (Destination, vision, mission, or purpose.)
  2. How are you going to get there? (Commitment, strategic initiatives, or the principles by which you live.)


The vision plan brings the answers to those two questions together on one page. It is a very powerful way to help those of us who lead to make the differences we propose to make in the world.


Creating a vision plan is a creative process. It also involves communication, concentration, ideas, collegiality, laughter, irreverence, and unity.


You can apply what you learn from the vision plan process by taking the questions raised and the processes learned and using them at work, with your family, and in your community.




In 1982, Johnson & Johnson realized some of their customers had died from cyanide found in Tylenol. The president of the company flew to the site of the deaths immediately, called the FDA to inform them there was a problem, and took every brand of Tylenol off the shelves within five days. Johnson & Johnson was rewarded for its behavior by keeping the faith of its customers and the FDA.


Other companies have not been so skilled. Proctor & Gamble had a product called Rely Tampons. When the first death came from the product, the company reacted the way they had been trained to react — they stonewalled, they were secretive, they were distrustful, and they did not acknowledge what was happening. Rely Tampons died as a product. The product was a good one and had the potential to do well, but it died. In another example, when the Exxon Valde2 spilled oil in the beautiful waters of Alaska due to the negligence of the captain, Exxon failed to handle the situation well. The chairman of Exxon did not go to the scene; instead, the company stonewalled. Today, the Exxon Valdez is still considered the prime example of a debacle of American business.


Within the first month after the deaths, Johnson & Johnson brought Tylenol back to the number one position in its market. Within a year and a half, Tylenol had a triple protection seal on its cap and its sales were at the same level as before the crisis. Johnson & Johnson came back from a crisis because they followed their values — values they had firmly established in the years prior to the crisis.


In the years prior to 1982, Johnson & Johnson spent thousands of dollars working on their values and they developed a credo: “Our number one responsibility is to doctors, nurses, mothers, and others who use our products. Our number two responsibility is to our employees

— the people who work for us in countries around the world serving our customers. Our number three responsibility is to the communities in which we operate: the towns, villages, and global community where our plants are located. Our number four responsibility is to our shareholders — the business must make a profit.” When cyanide killed some Tylenol users, Johnson & Johnson knew what to do because it knew what its priorities and values were.


From values — that which we care about, that which tells us who we are when we look in the mirror — come principles; from principles come practices; from practices come processes (how you hire people, etc.); from processes come practical results; from practical results comes pride; from pride comes prestige; and from prestige comes profit.




You should have a big vision, a vision which says, “we want to excel, lead, win.” Envision big success.


Those of us who lead need to make our vision plans visual. This helps us to advertise our values to others in our TEC groups, families, or businesses. It also serves as a reminder to ourselves of where we want to go. Values will make you money; they will make you succeed with the people you care about. You can express it all in a vision plan.


The typical strategic plan consists of pages and pages of written material. The vision plan is a one-page plan that you can distribute to all of your employees.


When creating a vision plan, there are a number of ways to get people to focus on what is important. The best way is to start by asking people, “What do you want?” Start by thinking about your dreams and desires and think about how they translate into values. To begin, Caple asks members to answer the following questions (answering specifically, when appropriate):


  1. If you could have whatever you wanted, what would it be?
  2. If you could have something else, what would it be?
  3. If you could have something that would make you feel great, what would it be?
  4. If you could have something even bigger, what would it be?
  5. If your very best dream came true, what would it be?
  6. If one more big goal of yours came true, what would it be?
  7. Think about your passions and interests in life. What do you care most about in this world?
  8. What would you give your life for or to?
  9. What else might you give your life for or to?
  10. What would make you say, at the end of your life, “This made it all worth while”?


When answering questions like these, try to define words like happy and successful. It is hard to move toward an abstract, moving, and changing target, so try to define your desires in more concrete terms.

When Caple’s son was a sophomore in high school, he told Caple that he wanted to go higher on the high jump. Caple asked him how much higher he wanted to jump and his son answered, “Well, I’ve gone 6’ 1” and I’d like to go higher.’ Caple asked him, “How high would you really like to jump; what’s your goal?” His son answered, “Before I get out of school, I’d like to jump 6’ 10”.” So, after a few days of thinking about it, Caple made a wooden sign in his son’s school colors that read “6’lO” and hung it in his son’s bedroom. By the time he graduated, Caple’s son’s personal best was 6’lO”.


It is important to try to specify your goals — within reason. If you give yourself vague goals, you don’t have something tangible to work toward. Having a tangible goal provides extra incentive for reaching for it. Solidifying your goals places them firmly in your consciousness.


The second step in the process is to define what you want for your company (or whatever your vision plan is for). To do this, Caple takes members through a relaxation/visualization process:


“Relax your feet, then your legs, then your shoulders, then your facial muscles. Take your glasses off. Concentrate on your breathing while you relax.


“Imagine you are just waking up from a fully restful night’s sleep. It is a morning in 1997, and as you come out of your sleep, stick your head out of the covers and look around the bedroom you are sleeping in. What do you see? Is there someone there with you? Notice the details. Then go to the place where you have a morning meal, take a close look at your food, smell it, and savor each mouthful. Again, notice detail. Who is there with you? Then go to where you are going to spend your day and look at what activities await you. If you go to another location for your day, notice where you go and how you get there. If you are going to a place of work, notice the exterior as you go

  1. Notice how you are greeted as you go in. Imagine you see a beautiful oak sign above the reception area with the mission statement on it. What does it say? If you are at work, go to your office and look around. Check out the high-tech communications and computing equipment you see in your office. Imagine you see another beautiful sign with your personal mission statement on it. What words do you see there? How do you spend your morning? If at midday you eat a meal, notice very carefully what the food is and enjoy each bite. How do you spend your afternoon? Notice the details, the colors, and how you feel.


“At the end of this day, you have a walk with an all-knowing, all-seeing, and trusted friend. As you walk with your friend, you say, ‘What I value most in my life is….’ What do you tell your friend? And as you walk with your friend, your friend asks you, ‘What is your vision for the future?’ What do you tell friend? You can ask your friend questions about your life, the people you know, etc. Then say goodbye to your friend with a handclasp or embrace and go back to the place where you started your day, or at least where you would like to end up. Notice the exterior. Is there someone there to greet you when you arrive? How do you spend your time before the evening meal? When you sit down at the meal, look at the food before you take a bite, then savor every mouthful. How do you spend the time before you go to bed? When you are ready, go back to the room where you started off the day, get into bed, and think about your day. How do you feel about your life? Then drift off into a perfectly restful night’s sleep.


“Now open your eyes. Write down what you saw and felt in your visualization.”


At this point, Caple divides the group into pairs. In each group, there must be an apple and a banana. If you have a banana, you have to describe what you saw in your day in as much detail as possible. Apples are going to listen and take some notes. This exercise should take five minutes and then the roles should be reversed.


This process is a great way to envision what you would like your future to be like. You may notice things you don’t like in your future, and you may see things you want very much in your future. What you see when you visualize can help guide you toward the future you want to have.


Caple has members spend a few minutes mapping out their personal vision plans on an easel sheet. The center should contain words or pictures which summarize where they are going and the key principles they live their lives by. The next sphere should contain strategic initiatives, and the third and final sphere should contain their objectives. This translates into the inner sphere representing who they are, the outer sphere representing where they want to go, and the middle sphere representing how they propose to get there.


Once members have designed their personal plans, Caple and the members search out the common values and objectives to create a vision plan for the TEC group.



TEC – Vision and Values by John Caple