Imagine a Better Future

July 26, 2016
  • Bob Chapman
  • Bob Chapman
    CEO & Chairman of Barry-Wehmiller

Are you a “what if?” or a “what’s next?” kind of leader?

Do you regularly pause to imagine the possibilities for the future of your business? Or do you merely react to the short-term stimuli of the week, quarter, year?

Do you dream big? Or do you remain focused on the here and now?

As business leaders, we owe our people a vibrant future. Establishing a vision for your business is a critical first step in making sure that your people have meaningful and fulfilling work and a future they can count on.

Throughout Barry-Wehmiller, business visioning goes far beyond establishing a three- or five-year financial plan. Business visioning is a way to dream about what our business future could be and create a road map that allows us to get there. It begins with an eye to the ideal, rather than starting where we are and looking for incremental improvement. Through our visioning process we invite our leadership teams to set aside traditional thinking and perceived barriers and imagine the possibilities of what the future could look like.

Design Group was the first Barry-Wehmiller division to approach business visioning this way. Established in 1986 with a mission to provide engineering and technology solutions to industry, Design Group has grown organically from a single office in St. Louis, MO to more than 35 locations throughout the US.

During the first decade, Design Group was “fueled” by the optimism and passion of a few well-intentioned leaders. The team had created a truly independent engineering consulting firm dedicated to providing solutions for its clients … but it lacked a clear and compelling vision for the future.

In 2001, I attended a business strategy session with the firm’s Managing Partner, Joe Wilhelm. Joe was presenting the following year’s budget and three-year financial plan, when I stopped him in his tracks and asked him to instead imagine the possibilities:

“What is possible if your capacity for growth is limited only by your ability to attract exceptional people into a proven business model and a vibrant people-centric culture?”

Two months ago, Design Group announced that it had surpassed a major milestone: 1,000+ professionals strong, having doubled in size since establishing new business vision goals five years ago!

Inspired and guided by their vision, they turned their possibility into reality.

Joe recently shared these thoughts:

“Having an ambitious, principled vision empowered me to speak to the organization with a greater sense of our purpose. It encouraged the entire leadership team to think big, to ‘shoot for the stars.’ I personally began to think ‘outside the box’ – in a responsible manner—without being constrained by conventional planning processes associated with budgetary goals.”

Step outside your comfort zone and ask “what if?” Imagine the possibilities.

Click HERE for more of the story about Design Group’s accelerated growth and insights into Barry-Wehmiller’s business visioning process.


Related Posts

Need help in applying principles of Truly Human Leadership in your organization? Chapman & Co. Leadership Institute is Barry-Wehmiller's leadership consulting firm that partners with other companies to create strategic visions, engage employees, improve corporate culture and develop outstanding leaders through leadership training, assessments and workshops.

Find out more at