Updated: Nov 7, 2018
Installment 5 in a 10-Part Series
Installment 5 in a 10-Part Series
The first time I recall being curious about the topic of #vision was working on my Boy Scouts’ Nature Merit Badge. My Dad was helping me go through the pamphlet. We got into a conversation about which animals had the best vision. He said it was the Eagle – the rank to which I aspired and later achieved. I learned this magnificent bird of prey sees clearly eight times farther than humans and perceives a wider range of colors plus UV light. That’s why the Eagle can zoom in on a small rabbit camouflaged in its surroundings two miles in the distance. Turns out, that years later, the Eagle is a great metaphor when you’re helping #chiefexecutives cast clear visions.
A very long #business cycle unfolded as the need for #missionstatements and #visionstatements entered the executive radar, became widely adopted, and then devolved into a mindless, templated, fill-in-the-blank exercise that sufficed for late-adopters.
As the vision process became generic, its’ perceived value was diminished, and the time for evolution in this critical area of #organizationalleadership arrived.
Before Jack Welch retired, he grew GE’s value 4,000% and left this timeless nugget, “Good business leaders create a vision, articulate the vision, passionately own the vision, and relentlessly drive it to completion.”
For this #marketingexpert the most important and formidable thing every CEO has to do is: 1) Imagine, craft and cast a clear and complete vision, and 2) Inspire all those around them to own it and join the exacting campaign necessary to cause it to materialize.
It’s common to engage a #CEO who has some trepidation about taking the time to thoughtfully and carefully work through the vision process and then drive that very personal stake in the ground. It’s a courageous step for the because it carries significant risk and the attendant responsibility and accountability is burdensome.
But, workers need and want to understand their leader’s vision. To see the way forward, it’s helpful to them to have a clear and complete view of: where we’re going, when do we want to get there, what are we likely to encounter along the way, and what specific resources are going to be available so we reach the desired destination on time.
There are tough waters to navigate.
For openers, organizations have to buy into the leader before they’ll buy into their vision. And, the “troops” respond much better to the leader’s earnest passion and commitment than their position atop the org chart.
My hero Warren Buffet wisely says, “Never test the depth of the river with both of your feet”; but, to make Vision work, the leader must be all in. That’s why they earn the big bucks … and how they ultimately maximize performance and reward growth as the organizational commander.
To accomplish this onerous task, I advocate an evolved method called #VisionCasting. This is a thought-provoking and invigorating process. It actively explores and imagines the #future and the role the business can and will play in that future. It emphasizes identifying opportunities to innovate and create disruption.
Thomas Frey is a top-rated speaker on #Futurism. I love his approach. He says, “The future creates the present”. So, you start with the future then think backwards.
At one point, I had an epiphany while reading about a Nobel Prize-winning Austrian physicist (Edwin Schrodinger). I’m paraphrasing, but essentially, he offered this mind-bending thought, “The task is not so much to see what no one else has yet to see; but, to think what no one else has yet to think about what everyone sees.”
Breakthrough visions are invisible at the moment because they’ve yet to be discovered through fresh thought.
The Vision Casting process begins with a series of one-on-one meetings with the CEO. They’re led through questions that help them begin to #imaginethefuture. The outcome tees up a discussion that invites active participation among the leadership team. It encourages and welcomes challenges and input. If the Vision survives this crucial test, the collective purpose of the organization is clarified, there’s harmony and alignment across the leadership team, and all believe there’s a realistic likelihood of success.
The final product is a narrative clearly expressing the complete Vision in an active and inspiring tone. This document charts the specific way forward and provides the platform for consistent organizational thinking, planning, and execution against the Vision.
Amazon’s leader Jeff Bezos advises, “Be stubborn on the #longtermvision, but flexible on the details.”
Vision Casting is a dynamic and ongoing process. The narrative is constantly being updated and refined as course corrections and adjustments are dictated by a fluid marketplace. It’s formally reviewed on a quarterly basis with leaders and departments to sustain a steady and timely course toward the desired destination.
Steve Jobs left us a treasure-load of valued #businesswisdom including this thought, “If you are working on something exciting that you really care about, you don’t have to be pushed. The vision pulls you along.”