Strategic Futurists; Value Systems Specialists


Avoiding the 'Vision as Rut' problem

Tuesday 26 November 2013

You don't have to look far in any book store or online marketplace to find authors who tell you the importance of 'having a Vision' for your personal life or for your company. And yet even when you DO find those organisations that have identified and articulated their ultimate driving goal, you'll find that the large majority of them still seem to be spinning their wheels as it were. They sure look busy, but do not seem to be making any headway. And the reason is, they're stuck in a rut BECAUSE of the very Vision they hold onto.

Now I'm not talking about the stated intentions represented by their Vision, the Values it ascribes to, the way it reads or whether the Vision seems to be a laudable end place or not. I'm specifically referring to the way the Vision is used within the organisation, or by the individual. In these (too frequently seen) cases, the Vision does not enable the organisation to achieve what it sets out to achieve because it is 'never ending'.

If you've been in one of my Advanced Strategic Planning public programs, you know that I diverge quite someway from what is suggested by many colleagues and associates (and many authors) about how Visions MUST be used. A Vision that goes on 'forever' is just like a really long, never ending rut for your organisation. Pursue that pattern for long enough, and your rut becomes a trench. And for an organisation, a long trench is just a grave that no one has gotten around to filling in yet.

So how do you avoid your Vision becoming a Rut?

1> Your Vision MUST be constantly referred to: 'This is why we're here people and what we're trying to achieve'

2> Your Vision must be BY the people it's FOR. The people asked to carry it, must be involved in creating it. New hires should be imbued with it, explained why it matters, asked to show how they understand it. Your staff are the best ones to have this conversation.

3> Should be as long or as short as it needs to be. You're not after a catchy phrase, you are after deep meaning

4> Can and should change. This often surprises management teams I work with. But it's clear that when your operational conditions change, or organisational values change, you should also see whether your Vision is still relevant. Also when point 5 below triggers the need

5> MUST BE TIME STAMPED. When, exactly, do you INTEND to reach your Vision? Simply put, without a time stamp, a line in the sand, EVERY Vision will end up being a rut. As soon as you put a 'by this date' against your Vision, magic happens; Focus happens; results happen. Until then, your Vision is just a wish list of fluff, likely to be little more than some tricked up branding statement.

For individuals and organisations, Visions are excellent at generating energy, excitement and passion. Visions with an end date bring one vital aspect to the picture - focused action. Which is how you avoid the Vision as Rut problem

Need help setting your personal or organisational Vision? This book will help: Getting Your Future Right

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