The Elements of a Compelling Vision
Some visions are remarkably short and compelling. In just a few words they capture the imagination, minds and spirits of people. They are grand in scale and incredibly uplifting. Sometimes they even have the sense of a slogan about them.
In an attempt to create this kind of vision statement, companies often set about developing a single sentence or short paragraph as their vision statement. Unfortunately, the senior team (in the spirit of full participation and inclusion) often delegates this work to a committee. The committee dutifully seeks widespread participation and collaboration, modifying its statement until everyone can accept it. And the result is a meaningless statement filled with platitudes, corporate pap, and no substance.
Visions are not created by the masses. They are not created by a committee. They are created by the leadership of an organization.
A single statement is typically inadequate as a functioning vision. Such a statement may contain emotional appeal, but it does not have sufficient clarity to be translated into meaningful action.
A comprehensive vision that is also compelling MUST include the following:
- The vision statement itself – short, clear, compelling and distinct
- The core strategies that the organization will follow to achieve that vision
Translating the Vision Into Strategic Direction
Once the vision has been articulated and agreed by the senior team, it must be converted into the core strategies that will be deployed to turn the vision into reality.
This step is often omitted by leadership teams. Instead, the vision is converted into specific goals which are divided into functional areas and assigned to the different members of the senior team for implementation. Unfortunately, different members of this team – even though they agree on the vision – may have profoundly different perspectives regarding the best ways to achieve that vision. The result is disagreement, conflict and organizational confusion as the organization attempts to execute to its vision.
The vision process is not complete until senor management- as a cross-functional integrated team – has worked together to define and agree on the core overall business strategies that will be used to achieve this vision
The process of developing this strategy document must include the articulation of the core strategies. It may also include the measures to use as the benchmark of performance and progress against this strategy. It may even include the assignment of specific members of the senior leadership team as champions of specific strategies. This step is especially useful if the strategies require cross-functional integration and implementation.
The following questions can help guide the strategy development process.
- How will this vision be achieved? What must we do differently?
- What are the key things we must start doing?
- What are the key things we must stop doing?
- What are the key things we must continue doing?
- What does this mean for:
- Our product/service mix
- Our target marketplace(s)
- Our customer base
- Our employees – our talent base
- Our core work processes
- Our infrastructure (locations, facilities, equipment, etc).
- Our business partners – alliances, suppliers, etc.
- Possible acquisitions or divestitures
- Capital requirements