Visionary organizations are almost cult-like – new recruits either thrive or leave.
Visionary organizations pursue their core ideologies so single-mindedly that their corporate cultures are almost cult-like.
For example, new employees quickly find themselves socializing primarily with their colleagues, and they are encouraged to be secretive about the inner workings of their companies.
Employees often become completely immersed in the core ideology.
Consider IBM, for example, where future managers in training would rise and sing songs from an IBM songbook:
“March on with I.B.M., Work hand in hand…”
Similarly, the Walt Disney Company expected its employees to live and breathe its core ideology of wholesome family fun.
For example, men with facial hair were not accepted as employees at theme parks, and anyone heard uttering a four-letter word in the presence of Walt Disney himself was fired immediately – no exceptions.
There is not much room in visionary companies for people who do not meet their tough expectations and standards.
New employees often find that either they fit right in and thrive, or they perform poorly, are unhappy and exit the company quickly.
In this regard, there are no compromises at visionary companies.
Conversely, because the employees are confident and can be counted on to adhere to the company's core ideology, they can also be given the leeway to experiment.
This stimulates progress and enables the company to avoid the dangerous group-think endemic in many cults.
Note though that visionary companies are not personality cults, centered around a charismatic CEO or founder but rather around the core ideology of the company.
Though charismatic personalities can also drive passionate work, such “cults” invariably collapse when the person leaves.