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Strategic Insights to Inspire your Journey

Has your vision come up lame?

A VISION should set your course and define what you want to see when you arrive at your future destination. It should be deeply inspiring, compelling and motivating. If you have written a business plan or completed a strategic planning process, then you have drafted a vision statement.

So, is your vision providing the inspiration your expected? Do you view it as a power tool in your strategic management toolkit? No, not really?

I have been surprised to find visions often are failing to do their job. This sent me on a mission to discover the cause of these lame visions. Here are two.

Here are two frequent causes I found in underpowered visions.

1. The Sum of All Parts Vision

This type of vision is the result of setting a vision based on bundling a series of goals that reflect what a company hopes to accomplish over the coming months or years. This method of building a shared vision is an attempt to tie together current thinking into a nice big package in the hopes that it will excite like the biggest package under the Christmas tree. When it fails to inspire awe or attract a higher level of engagement, leaders complain and express doubt that a strong vision can provide any real advantage in their success.

The missing ingredient here is aspiration. A vision is a dream about a future state; a future that is special and new. The sum of all parts vision can seem like just more work unless tied to a higher purpose or compelling impact. Bigger, on its own, is not enough.

 2. The “BHAG” Vision

Another type of vision I see coming up lame is a vision that is an overly simplified, far-reaching goal. This fits into the BHAG (Big, Hairy, Audacious, Goal) category. 

In this case, a BHAG has been incorrectly used as a short-cut to the challenging work of strategy development. When a leader or a leadership team takes the BHAG approach, it is often to ignite a desire to achieve the unachievable among their employees. Without a story of how the unreachable might, over time, be reached, the unveiling of the BHAG vision is met with confusion. It raises more questions than management can answer effectively frustrating everyone.

The BHAG concept, coined by Collins and Porras in 1994, is not a visioning methodology on its own. It is the concept that once you have crafted a compelling vision for a far off future (typically one in which no one creating the vision will be around to experience it) you distil the essence of the vision into a rallying cry to motivate focus of individuals on the ideal, long-range end-state. If you have not crafted a robust vision first, then your rallying cry will be too hollow to do anything powerful for you.

 In both cases, the effort to produce a compelling and motivating vision fails to produce these results. The reality is that the creation of a holistic, motivating and truly compelling vision requires time. It also requires a different mindset from the challenges management teams face day in and day out. It requires new thinking carefully crafted and integrated for a new and captivating view of the future; it requires strategic thinking.

If your organization lacks the inspiration to fuel performance, or if you want to develop a compelling strategic direction, contact us.  

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Post Tags: Strategic Planning Strategic Thinking

Cecilia Lynch

WRITTEN BY:Cecilia Lynch