In Leaders, Strategy

“Strategic planning is worthless – unless there is first a strategic vision.” – John Naisbitt

In last week’s post I talked about how important it is to plan, and a few key things that make up part of a successful planning process.  As a few of you reminded me, there are many other things that go into successful planning.  One that resonates with me because of some recent experiences is the importance of having a clear, concise, share vision.

Many organizations (at least the ones we work with) struggle with the idea of having a vision.  They may have a “vision statement”, but it’s usually so vague and intangible that nobody really knows what it means.  If you were to ask people what the vision for their business is, too many of them would say, “The same as today only better.”

That’s not a vision.  Part of the reason some of our clients struggle with the whole concept is that they make it way too complicated.  I think some leaders think that if their company’s strategic vision is concise, or doesn’t use big words, or doesn’t sound like Pulitzer prize-winning literature, then it’s no good.  Certainly it’s nice to have some big-sounding thing, but there has to be some definition, some meaning to it.

It’s OK to say, “Our vision is to change people’s lives” – but you and your people have to know what that means.  I don’t mean that you need to write a novel explaining how you’re going to do it, but on a personal level, you and everybody in your organization need to understand what that means.  In order to make that happen, you have to talk about it.

Too many CEO’s announce the vision and then expect everybody to get behind it.  That’s pretty rare.  More likely, you as the leader will have to help them get there.  You need to talk about it.  You need to listen to them talk about it.  It’s a process, similar to planning.  You don’t just do it once and you’re done.  It needs to be a living thing.

So what is your vision?  When you look into the future for your organization, what do you see?  What are you doing, and more importantly, why?  It’s one of the most important questions you’ll ever answer about yourself and your business.


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