In Change, Leaders, Vision

“There are two kinds of companies – those that change and those that disappear.” – Anonymous

Most of the businesses and leaders I have the opportunity to work with agree on the importance of change. When I talk about chaos and volatility and the rapidly changing environment in which we live and work they all nod their heads. And I think they’re in earnest when they do that.

The problem is that when it comes to actually changing, too often very little happens. There are a lot of excuses (‘I/we don’t have time’ is everybody’s favorite). Whatever the stated reason, the reality is that the world is full of people and organizations who know they need to change, who admit publicly that they need to change, and yet aren’t changing.

I think one of the main reasons (aside from fear of or dislike for change) is the feeling of “Where do I start?” There are so many things that we could change that we don’t know where to begin. When we’re totally honest with ourselves, we realize that virtually every area of our lives or businesses could use some level of change. So we think about the literally hundreds of changes we could make and are paralyzed with indecision – so we do nothing.

There’s no magic formula for where to start. But here’s an idea: start with the end. If you don’t have a clear vision for WHERE you want to be then you’ll have no clue HOW to start getting there. We are approached by countless organizations every year who want help with ‘strategic planning’. We ask them, “What exactly are you planning for?” Standard answer: “Huh?” You can’t plan without some kind of vision.  You can’t develop strategy without knowing what you’re trying to accomplish.

How often do you take time to work on your vision? I’m not talking about saying things like, “We want to grow”, or any other kind of non-quantifiable thing. I’m talking about something you can see, something tangible. How much do you want to grow – and why? What will your customers look like? What will your role be? A huge percentage of the time and energy and money spent on planning in the world is done without really talking about the vision for the organization.

Think about the key members of your team. Who is future-oriented? Who is most creative? Who is best able to clarify a murky picture? Get together with those people on a regular basis and make time to clearly develop your vision. I know of an organization that has a small group of people whose sole responsibility is to think about the future and come to the leadership group with ideas for change. While a smaller business may not have the resources for that, at the very least you can use that as a model and try something similar.

However you go about it, make sure you have a clear, well-communicated vision. Without that crucial step, all the change efforts in the world will come to nothing. And your business will simply disappear.

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