A husband-and-wife couple approaches and asks a consultant for help in their business.
The husband-and-wife couple just started a business selling electrical devices such as relays and circuit breakers. Demand was strong at the onset and the couple has found themselves working around the clock serving customer orders. Maybe the consultant can contribute some ideas?
The consultant immediately advises the couple to set aside a few days to do a Vision, Mission, Objectives, and Strategy (VMOS) exercise with their staff. The aim of the exercise is for the couple to set goals by establishing a common vision for their business. The consultant would facilitate the VMOS exercise, of course.
The couple agreed and after a few days, the couple’s enterprise had written a VMOS. When the consultant collected his fee and left, the couple realised they still didn’t have any ideas on how to serve their customers better.
A VMOS is the last thing an enterprise needs when it’s starting up. This is because when an enterprise is just starting, it already has a VMOS. It can be summarised in one word: survival.
The couple started their electrical device business precisely because they saw there was demand. They just didn’t realise that there was a lot of demand. They and their staff became overwhelmed. They had trouble catching up with orders. Customers were complaining and the husband-and-wife couple feared they were going to lose customers.
The couple were concerned about their enterprise’s survival. They needed solutions to address the higher-than-expected demand. The last thing they needed was an elaborate VMOS.
Many consultants (and bloggers) promote VMOS for businesses. A VMOS can be good but by experience, it’s only useful long after an enterprise has started up and stabilised. It might be a good idea for an enterprise to do a VMOS when it is at a crossroads, such as when its owners and management are debating strategies for new ideas or products.
For a new business that is just getting off the ground, however, a VMOS is the last thing an enterprise needs.
When the husband-and-wife couple went to another consultant. They found a more down-to-earth consultant who advised them to review their product lines and focus producing those items that are selling briskly. The consultant also advised the couple to prioritise selling to customers who were willing to pay cash; this would help in turning over capital which the couple could use to invest in increasing capacity to serve growing demand.
A VMOS exercise is nice for enterprises that are stable but are doing some soul-searching for their future.
A VMOS exercise, however, is not what an enterprise needs when it’s starting up and its immediate preoccupation is survival.
Enterprise executives should also be careful in engaging consultants, especially ones whose agenda prioritise themselves and their profits over the benefits for clients.