That depends a good deal on where you want to get to,’ said the Cat.
‘I don’t care much where,’ said Alice.
‘Then it doesn’t matter which way you go,’ said the Cat.
In business, we usually have a variety of options to choose from. It’s difficult to turn opportunities down, yet the ability to choose is a critical factor in long term sustainable success. Businesses all too often struggle because they chase or accept every opportunity, stretch themselves too thin and lose sight of what they are and why they exist.
Knowing where you’re headed is vital
Because to succeed means to say no to some opportunities and this is hard to do. It’s even harder when you don’t have a crystal clear understanding of your long term vision. When you’re struggling for growth and opportunities present themselves, each one could, in theory, hold as much promise as the next.
But just because you can do something, doesn’t mean that you should.
What is a vision not?
- It is not your financial or revenue goal. Why? Because a vision must inspire and direct. And whilst ‘doubling our turnover’ will no doubt inspire some, for most employees this will not tap into their motivation to give their best. A financial goal is an output metric – a measure of success.
- It is not your strategy, which is the ‘how’ that will get you there. Your strategy should be regularly reviewed and will iterate over time.
For example, if my vision is to get to and scale the London Shard, my strategy could be my vehicle of choice or the route I take. These ‘how’ choices will depend on whether I can drive, what I can afford, where the traffic jams are. But my vision doesn’t change, (until I achieve it).
- It is not something you and your board dash out in a half hour meeting and it is certainly not something a brand agency creates for you.
So what is a vision?
Your vision is a richly described end-state that brings to life the organisation you will be when you have ‘arrived’. It should be achievable, but not easily (or it won’t challenge you enough, or provide enough galvanising fuel to get you there). Your vision should remain, like a guiding light on the horizon, challenging you to think big and giving you that tantalising lure of what it will feel like to arrive.
It takes some in-depth thinking and expert facilitation to really get to a vision that will propel you forward. When you know your destination, all of a sudden, your options are narrowed – and that feels good. No more worry or indecision. Whenever you have a choice, it is simple (not always easy!) – will this get me closer to or further away from my vision? Will it hasten or slow my progress?
Once the horses are pulling in the same direction, the cart can move forward at speed – and there’s far less risk of a wheel dropping off….