Volume 1 / Issue 14/ September 26, 2016
Visions impact hearts and minds
While direction is a vision’s job, it demands that we consider both head and heart issues. Effective visions have to be grounded in analytically sound thinking or they will not get respect. They must also be tied to the deeply felt values of the culture and the leaders who created them (what they care about and where they want the entity to go) Mission: Describes how we will behave on the way to achieving our vision. It’s in the Mission that we define how a company will behave toward its shareholders, employees, customers and stakeholders while in pursuit of the vision Values: Describe the beliefs that constituents of the group hold dear. Values do not give direction but they can be used to measure the correctness of your vision (direction) and protect you from adopting an illegal or inappropriate one. Values become a kind of inner compass that guides the collective actions of the group.
A closer look at the four essential elements of a sustainable vision
Vision must be:
Visions must be developed by the leaders – those with skin in the game. Wise leaders seek input of those impacted by the vision, those who will be both involved in the transformation and those expected to support the vision in future. Great things can happen if everyone feels ownership but we know from experience that the only way to impart a feeling of ownership into a human being is involvement accompanied by trust and respect.
2 Shared and supported.
There must be buy-in. A good vision must be easy for leaders to communicate in terms folks understand and are comfortable with. A key question for any manager is: “Have I spent enough time with my people to know and understand their values and how they will respond to this vision?” Today’s leaders must get to know their people like never before.
3 Comprehensive and detailed.
Here is where most visions fail. They are not thorough enough to meet intense questioning. They must be spelled out and answer the questions: Why is this direction required? What will the future desired state really be like? How will it work and impact us? What will my role be? What’s in it for me? Broad statements will not do.
4 Positive and inspiring.
Ideally, visions should be short and easy to remember. It should be something those governed by it can relate to using terms they would use in every day conversations. This will be difficult to do unless the leaders have spent enough time with employees to understand them. Beware of leaders who avoid dealing with this issue.
Drive vision thinking every day
The Vision should be the touchstone every leader uses when something new surfaces. If what just occurred in not align with the organization’s why are we spending time on it. It should always be in mind that anything and everything that does not align with the Vision is likely waste, and must be targeted for elimination. It’s not rocket science.
Like most LEAN tools, Visioning is recursive. That means it can be applied repeatedly to all levels in an organization but with the scope adjusted appropriately for each. However, each level’s Vision must align with the overall corporate direction set by the overall leaders or owners.
This applies in any organization in departments of any size. For groups of employees that may be uncomfortable with the word Vision, they may use the term Charter, Goal, Objective, Purpose, ‘Reason for being’, etc. This is fine as long as it performs the similar function of portraying a future desired state to be reached – the differences between goals and visions are below.
Summarizing the concept
The job of vision is to provide an organization, company, church, or family with a snapshot of the future desired state (target) they set for themselves, or more often set by the leaders. It provides invaluable direction and thus the opportunity for alignment that comes from getting everyone on the same page and working together. It is truly sobering to think of the wastes of all kinds that could be cut by getting everyone to commit to a ‘laser-focus’ on a future desired state (vision) everyone would support.
Keep in mind that there is a big difference between a vision and a goal. The simple way of looking at the difference is to see a vision as the ‘big picture of the future desired state’ of the organization, and see a goals as interim steps needed to get to the Vision. As such, goals characteristically are more precise, measurable, and defined than visions.
“Leaders are limited by their
vision rather than their abilities.”Roy Bennett