Helen Keller once said "It is a terrible thing to see and yet have no vision." As someone who had no physical sight, I can only imaging how challenging the world must have been. Yet, she realized that it is not our physical sight, but the vision for our lives that truly counts. She had a vision to be, do, and have more than the world would normally allow for someone with her challenges.
Within companies, it is equally sad to see leaders who have no real vision. An example of a bad vision is... It is our vision to be the best in our field by the end of the year. No, that is a hope, not a vision. While some people can be excited about the organization being the best, it takes something that can truly inspire people to get them to want to follow the vision. An inspiring vision might be to witness a world that is cancer free, or to see a world where every child is born with the opportunity to learn, or build families where domestic violence does not exist. You have to keep in mind that not everyone will buy into your vision. People need to know how they will benefit from the vision, not just how the managers will get bonuses if the vision is fulfilled.
The following are 3 keys to an effective vision for your organization or for your life...
1. It must be believable. It starts with you as the leader. If you don't believe 100% in the vision, then you will not pass it on to your people. If they don't believe 100% in the vision, then they will not pass it on. In order for something to be believable all the way down the line, it cannot be about your profit, bottom line, sales increase, etc. It has to be something that stimulates the intrinsic (internal) side of motivation.
2. It must be challenging. If it were easy, everyone would do it. You need to make it tough enough for people to see that it cannot be done alone. It also needs to create enough of a challenge that you can sit around drinking coffee and playing the Mission Impossible theme song after you do attain it because you just did what nobody outside of your team thought was possible. Curing cancer is not easy! It is a challenge! You must turn a profit in business to stay in business, but that cannot and will not inspire others to perform. Make it something that people can see mentally. A concrete company might be "laying the foundation for a better future." A flower company might be "opening hearts to love." Their vision might be to help relationships to bloom through the love shown in flowers. Their overarching objective with that vision might be to reduce divorce rates by 10% per year until there is not more divorce in their area. Your catch phrase, vision statement, and purpose statement must all flow together and be tough enough that it requires your whole team and then some to accomplish it.
3. It must gel people together. Many companies create a rallying cry during tough times. They remember the Alamo, or the crash of '88, or great management turnover of 2001. Whatever it is that they lived through, they remember how tough it was. Tough times are actually the easiest way to gel people together. They unite to overthrow a common enemy. You don't actually have to wait for that down time to gel though. The truth is that a rallying cry can be created in good times just as effectively as in bad times. What is it about your organization that can be a common theme (not money) that can pull everyone from the Janitor to the CEO together. Ford - Quality is Job 1. That is what Dr. Edwards Deming used with Ford Motor Company to turn them around and make them into the powerhouse that they are now. It worked! Ford - our CEO needs a bonus just didn't have the same ring to it. (snicker snicker).
If you will remember those principles, you can have a great vision. It is often helpful to use an outside facilitator to help create the RIGHT vision for your organization. Someone who can view your organization from 30,000 with only one objective - cast a vision that the people will follow.
If you would like to learn more about vision at work or have specific questions, feel free to post. You can also email me at: firstname.lastname@example.org
To your success!