Chapter 5: Our Vision

This is part of the Thomas Nelson Way Series, an in-house curriculum for new employees. It is intended to be a “quick reference” for the things that are important to us. You can click here to see the introduction to the series and our thinking behind it.

Where there is no vision, the people perish.
— Proverbs 29:18

Having a clear vision of where you are going is crucial to any human endeavor. This is especially true when it comes to business. Unless we know where we are going, it is difficult to select the best route to get there or to assign the necessary resources.

Man Above the Clouds, Perring Through a Telescope - Photo courtesy of ©iStockphoto.com/RichVintage, Image #3598020

Photo courtesy of ©iStockphoto.com/RichVintage

Like our Purpose Statement, our vision is oriented around “We inspire the world.” It also includes our vision for market share and financial performance. These are also critically important but are the result of doing other things well.

Note that our vision is written in the present tense, as though we have already accomplished it. This is intentional. Jesus said, “Whatever things you ask when you pray, believe that you receive them, and you will have them” (Mark 11:24). By making these statements in the present tense, we are exercising our faith, believing that God will bring these things to pass, according to His will.

Therefore, With God’s help, we envision the following future by 2012:

  1. We maintain an inspired work environment where people connect with the Company’s purpose and values.
  2. We create the most innovative, inspirational product experiences in our industry.
  3. We deliver our products globally in the form and distribution channels our customers prefer.
  4. As a result, we are transforming our world and delivering superior financial results to our owners.

We have expanded each of these statements, in order to make our vision more vivid and clear.

1. Work Environment

We maintain an inspired work environment where people connect with the Company’s purpose and values.

  • People love working at Thomas Nelson, because it is a challenging, joyful, and rewarding place to work. As a result, we are consistently voted “Best Christian Workplace” (BCWI) and “Best Places to Work” (Nashville Business Journal).
  • Every employee knows our core ideology, can articulate it to others, and knows how they fit into the larger picture.
  • Our employees feel empowered to do what is right and are proud that they work for a company where integrity and honesty guide everything we do.
  • We believe in training. We encourage our people—and selectively pay for them—to pursue higher education, attend seminars, conferences, and retreats. In addition, we operate a world-class training center in Nashville called “Thomas Nelson Leadership University.” Our employees compete to attend and get publishing and live event management experience that is unavailable anywhere else in the world.
  • Our employees are regarded as leaders in their fields. As a result, they are constantly targeted by employee search firms. However, we lose very few employees. No other companies provide the sense of purpose and satisfying work environment that we do.
  • We maintain a diverse workforce, with women and minorities in key positions. The executive ranks are open to anyone based on merit, without regard to race or gender.
  • We compensate our employees fairly and competitively, including programs that align their interests with the Company’s growth targets.
  • Our employees inspire others, both inside and outside the Company. They are natural evangelists. Their attitude and behavior are contagious, attracting and connecting others to us.

2. Product Experiences

We create the most innovative, inspirational product experiences in our industry.

  • We understand that our ultimate product is not the content we publish or the events we host but the experience the consumer has by means of those products.
  • We have become the best in our industry at identifying, developing, and maintaining publishing and live event brands.
  • We publish virtually every influential fiction and non-fiction author whose worldview and values are congruent with ours.
  • We provide ongoing training opportunities for our best communicators. We hold these in beautiful resort settings where our communicators are exposed to the most stimulating new ideas on the planet.
  • We create an author and speaker experience that has agents and content providers eager to sign and re-sign with us.
  • Not all of our products are explicitly Christian; however, all of them conform to our Content Standards.

3. Distribution Channels

We deliver our products globally in the form and distribution channels our customers prefer.

  • We make use of every available distribution channel and are constantly looking for new ways to get our products to as many people as possible.
  • Our live events sell our publications and our publications sell our live events.
  • We produce the most effective, results-oriented, marketing and merchandising events in the world, consistently resulting in “wow” reactions from key constituents.
  • Three percent of our revenues come from the delivery of digital content.
  • Ten percent of our revenues come from direct to consumer relationships.
  • More than 50% of our revenues come from General Market sales channels.
  • A significant portion of our revenues come from outside the U.S. We have offices in Nashville, Dallas, Rio de Janiero, Beijing, Mexico City, and such places as New York, Miami, London, Beirut, Moscow, Calcutta, and Johannesburg. We simultaneously release our major titles in the world’s top five languages.

4. Tangible Results

As a result, we are transforming our world and delivering superior financial results to our owners.

  • Our products are found on every shelf in every section of the bookstore in every part of the world.
  • Our publications and conferences help fuel worldwide evangelism, revival, and church growth. In addition, they are having a significant influence on public policy, culture, and values.
  • We generate $500 million in annual net revenue and $95 million in Earnings Before Interest, Taxes, Depreciation, and Amortization (19%).
  • We are growing organically at the rate of 10% per year. We deliver consistent, sustainable financial results.
  • Over 250 million people per year are touched by our products and events.
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  • http://christianlovestories.blogspot.com Kristy Dykes

    Great post. Inspiring. Motivating. I’ve printed it out for my husband, a pastor, because a few things apply. Of course we have a mission statement, goals, etc., but there’s so much we want to accomplish. Our church? Think Whoopie Goldberg’s in The Sister Act.

  • http://christianlovestories.blogspot.com Kristy Dykes

    Great post. Inspiring. Motivating. I’ve printed it out for my husband, a pastor, because a few things apply. Of course we have a mission statement, goals, etc., but there’s so much we want to accomplish. Our church? Think Whoopie Goldberg’s in The Sister Act.

  • http://jwikert.typepad.com Joe Wikert

    Mike, this corporate philosophy book idea is wonderful. One item that really caught my eye was the part about providing ongoing training opportunities for your best authors. What a great way of proving to your authors that they are critical stakeholders in the future of the business!

  • http://thecollegekid.wordpress.com Daniel

    Mike. The vision of Nelson Books inspires me to want to develop and refine my own vision as well. Thank you.

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  • http://www.homeschooltablet.com homeschooltablet

    I believe the Mathew 11:24 reference is wrong.  It should be Mark 11:24.
    I am always looking for good vision statements.  Looks like a great series.  Thanks

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      Good catch on the Bible reference. I have changed it. Thanks.