Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Is Vision Statement Overrated?

Vision is the unified view of the future!

Vision Statement is a very brief summary to provide guidance about what core to preserve and what future to stimulate progress toward. It gives some sense of the two main points. First, it's doing it to having the conversations across the organization. Second, it's worth pushing to a level of specificity, which makes the desired outcome unarguably clear and provides a means of tracking progress. One of the key payoffs from this process is that it delivers the top team a single-page matrix of their current and future desired states. This becomes the starting point for their detailed planning - and, of course, some readjustments as they tested the various elements through detailed analysis.

Vision is crucial to your strategy: It will give direction, so your vision is your first step in creating your strategy. Then "baking in" your Vision into your DNA (culture) will be the second step of your strategy. Therefore, the strategy should always be incepted by a strong vision, a vision that makes a difference, not a mere tactic for temporal gains. To push to the next level of specificity in the following process: first, defining the key parameters (without any quantification) that would be useful in summarizing how they wanted the business to look. This might include parameters such as product offerings, operating geography, revenue and gross margins, etc. But also the soft stuff of culture, etc. Second, quantifying or defining each parameter in terms of where the business is today, and then what the figures (or descriptions) would be for each parameter in, say, three years time. It takes a Vision Paper - about four or five pages of what you are doing, what has led you to it, and what the benefits will be in the far off future. Then you turn that over to those who would move that Vision into strategic reality, shape and form the strategy, and move it into action.

Vision statements are really what you see at the moment, and may change over time as you grow and learn: None of us are stagnant, we are continually discovering who we are and "who" we want our company to be. The leader of the group needs to be willing to put his/her vision out there, and be open and receptive to input from their team. This allows the team to openly debate their ideas and thoughts, aligning their own personal visions with the vision of the company. This is one step in creating the power of a team moving forward, taking all the steps necessary to create incredible results. A vision needs to adapt over time since the world and our competitive environment doesn't stay still. But, the current vision needs to be the principal guide to high-level decision-making and resource allocation.

Vision is the unified view of the future: An organization is nothing other than a structure to support the collective ideas and actions of the people that are part of it. When the vision, purpose, and values are clear, everything/everyone is aligned and employees know that they have the power to make decisions that are in the best interest of the organization, as well as share their ideas in an atmosphere free of fear, you will find an organization that has the ability to be successful. The process of developing the Vision Statement with the top team has the real value. It aligned them - and, to put it somewhat lightheartedly, it wouldn't have mattered what language the final statement is in. The key is the shared debate around what is important to the company and where they want to be in, say, three years time. And, this might cover things as broad as market position or culture, or as specific as the core product or service offerings.

In order for a vision statement to be of value, everything in a company ought to flow to and from the vision statement: Vision statements that simply line the pages of a company's quarterly report or website or words on walls are extremely ineffective. People need to be selected, trained, coached, measured, rewarded and ultimately be held accountable for bringing the vision to life. When all of these elements are present, the vision becomes more than words on a wall or a leadership activity. Unfortunately, many companies and leaders lose focus of the vision and don't take the time to support it in everything they do. Empowering people to contribute ideas and operate in their giftedness is crucial to make vision as reality. If the vision statement is the result of a whole company introspection, then yes; they are effective because each and every one of the stakeholders has "ownership" to some degree in the statement. If the vision statement is the result of a top management retreat, it will require a lot of selling and pushing it down the throat of all employees. it's an uphill battle, once top management relaxes the push, people tend to go back to their old ways.

Vision is required at any given stage of an organization’s life span. Vision Statement is very difficult to establish if the company doesn't have a Strategic Analysis, and the most important thing, a purpose of business. As the vision is the perception of a destination of the journey you want to embark on, but you would need the knowledge to implement, this journey roadmap is "strategy." Make vision clear and meaningful so the organization you are leading know where it’s headed.


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