My dad must be a patient man. When I was a small boy on a long drive, I always used to ask “are we there yet?” – The answer would be always the same; “just around the next corner.”
To me, the vision of going on holiday would be sunshine, buckets and spades and sandcastles.
Most people like to know where they are going. But when it comes to work, why isn’t having a clear vision of what the business is trying to do a priority for most businesses – having a well-defined strategy is not enough.
Many readers at this point will be saying but my business has a vision – but if you are challenged to write it succienctly you probably couldn’t. So maybe the direction which seemed so clear is not very clear at all.
Creating a clear and engaging vision statement is not a simple task.
A vision statement should be well thought out and crafted.
Why a vision statement?
How do you know your stategy is the right one if you don’t know the kind of business you are trying to create – just imagine trying to build a house from plans but having no idea whether the house is going to be what you what (a bungalow instead of a house).
What makes a good vision statement?
Consider these questions:
- does your vision statement declare what you are going to do better than your competitiors?
- Does it identify who your customers are going to be?
- Does it capitalise on your strengths to minimise your weaknesses?
- Would your vision statement fit any of your competiotors or is it truly distinct to you?
- What is your business NOT about?
- Is your vision something you wish will happen or is it something you truly believe your company can make happen.
- Can you assess progress towards your objective (just around the next corner!)
The core of your vision should clearly identify your direction, or focus.
Motivating the team
The scope of the vision should be not be too broad, that it opens up the business to areas where there is no distinct competence or ability to differentiate from the competition.
The goal needs to be realistic. The big difference between Tiger Woods as a small child saying he was going to be the greatest golfer in the world and leading a team or workforce – he only had himself to convince. If you have are leading a team and your vision is so far removed from where you are now, and you cannot argue how you’re going to achieve the goal, then it’s unlike to be motivational.
The vision should be achievable within a reasonable timeframe –
When President Kennedy addressed Congress in 1961, he created a vision so powerful that it captured the minds of a nation:
“First, I believe that this nation should commit itself to achieving the goal, before this decade is out, of landing a man on the moon and returning him safely to the earth. No single space project in this period will be more impressive to mankind, or more important for the long-range exploration of space; and none will be so difficult or expensive to accomplish”
The reason why this is so powerful is that not only does it create a very powerful vision (delivered in front of single black and white image of the moon) is that it specifies a time period in which it will be achieved.
There is no definitive time period that is right for all situations. In some organisations the timeframe can be often be much longer. However, in many smaller organisations 3-5 years would be sufficiently long enough to be motivational to the team.
Just around the next corner
Once you have painted the vision it’s important not to leave it hanging on the wall or as a screen saver. You have to communicate progress on the journey – good and bad, it’s all part of the journey.