I live in San Francisco, so let me use a hometown illustration to answer this great question.
We are well known for our sourdough bread. This type of bread is yeast based. One of the most famous sourdough bread bakeries in San Francisco is Boudin. Boudin reports that their bread is made daily from the same yeast starter that they used during the gold rush. That means that if I bought a loaf today, I would essentially be eating the same bread as anyone in town in 1849.
An entrepreneurial vision (if worthy) is like this yeast starter. It is the source of a company’s strategic plan and should feed future iterations if it. Executive leadership should begin each new strategic planning effort by reviewing the history of the company’s evolution (the good, the bad and even the ugly). They should use the essence of the founding vision to start the next planning cycle. The executive team takes form the entrepreneurial vision just as Boudin baker’s take a small amount of the mother dough each morning to start their daily bread making.
Baker’s feed yeast mother daily to replenish it so that it grows overnight and is ready for use the next day. A successful company built on its heritage feeds the entrepreneurial vision much the same way and builds a strong company culture and ultimately true competitive advantage.
The big caveat here is that the entrepreneur’s vision is a true vision and stays relevant. Many companies start with one vision and over time complete reinvent themselves as times change and as their competencies evolve. Still, if the entrepreneur’s vision is values-based - meaning it includes statements about the impact on the world or the type of company they want to create, it can still be a “starter” for each strategic planning cycle.
TIP: History-grams as an incredible way to honor the past and bring newer folks up to speed with the more seasoned folks at the start of a team’s first strategic planning effort. It can unite a tenuous team quickly, so they are more comfortable with each other and confident to speak up with their great strategic thinking.
If you think you should conduct strategic planning, take our strategy ready test to get a sense of where to start.