Your Vision Work by
word 'vision' often puts people off. It can conjure up the
image of sitting in a cave and waiting for inspiration to descend,
thereby suggesting that visions are something special that only
a few people can develop.
nonsense. Visions are simply images of the future. Everyone has
them all the time, both for themselves and for their businesses
the key question is not whether people can have visions but how
they can make their visions most effective.
answering this, it's important to ask what the point of having
a vision is. I believe that a vision has two main purposes.
a good vision provides direction. Without a direction,
businesses can go round and round in circles, making little progress.
In addition, having a direction provides a foundation for making
important decisions about the future.
a good vision provides energy and motivation. All leaders
know that people work better if they have a purpose for their
work that is attractive and that they believe in.
are various ways of increasing your vision's effectiveness. As
ever, it's important to use your judgement. If any of these suggestions
don't turn out to be useful for you, then don't use them.
Make your vision concrete and specific. Everyone's come
across those meaningless and anodyne visions about delighting
customers or being the best. The problem with them is that they
don't motivate and they don't help you to make decisions.
if you do want to delight customers or be the best, be much more
specific about what you mean. One of the best ways of doing this
is to paint a detailed word picture so that someone else reading
it will know exactly what you are talking about.
really up to you what areas you include in your vision. There
are standard business areas often included in visions such as
the level of sales or profits, the business's position in the
market, the development of new products and returns to shareholders.
could also include other areas such as what sort of staff you
will be employing, how staff will feel about working for the business,
what your office will look like and what customers and competitors
will be saying about the business.
Make it exciting. Your vision sets the destination for
the business. If you and your staff aren't excited about getting
to that destination, you are much less likely to generate the
energy that you are going to need to get there.
have different destinations that excite them. For some, it's money;
for others, it's developing a great product or building a successful
company. What's the destination that really excites you?
is linked very much with point 1. Your vision is much more likely
to be exciting if it is concrete and specific.
Include your customers and other important groups. Businesses
succeed because they retain old customers and gain new ones. Including
in your vision how your customers are going to benefit by doing
business with you is one way of ensuring that you stay focused
on their needs.
can also be useful to include other groups which are critical
to the business's success, like investors and suppliers, for example.
Understand the external environment. Successful companies
anticipate changes in their external environment and alter course
accordingly. Visions must take into account how changes in customer
demand, the actions of competitors and improvements in technology
will change the competitive landscape.
important question to ask is: how does your business need to evolve
in order to remain competitive in its market in the coming years?
Don't be excessively ambitious. Some writers talk about
BHAG's (Big Hairy Audacious Goals) ie. goals that are huge and
daring. That's fine for some businesses but, for other businesses,
such visions feel overwhelming and disempowering both to managers
and their staff.
should something to aim for and to take a business out of its
comfort zone. However they don't need to be impossible.
Make it a working vision. It's all too easy to develop
a vision and then forget about it. That's a complete waste of
time. Effective visions are cascaded downwards so that your strategic
objectives evolve out of your vision and initiatives are developed
to achieve your strategic objectives. And so on.
important also to communicate your vision to your staff. How can
they be working towards the business's vision if they don't know
what it is?
Make it flexible. Visions shouldn't be set in stone. As
both internal and external circumstances change, your vision is
going to need to change as well. Therefore it's important to revisit
it at least every 6 or 12 months just so that you can check that
it's still relevant.
an effective vision is a key part of an internal business plan.
More information about developing your vision can be found in
my Internal Business Plan Manual.