By Chuck Thomas / in Branding & Market Views / January 18, 2017
Does vision within an organization need to be tempered, does the role of vision ever stop or slow? Does forever need to reach into the future and push the envelope out of the current state?
I believe continued, ever-expanding vision is critical if an organization is to create sustainable growth. To understand the need for pervasive vision, we must start with shared values. Let me tell you why.
Values are those core motivators that reside deep in one’s heart and soul. They show up sometimes as core decision-making drivers for careers and lifestyle, but they can also be seen more visibly in affiliations with groups, interests and hobbies.
These values drive virtually every decision you make. Whether in the grocery store looking for breakfast cereal, or at the bank considering your service agreement; whether purchasing a new car or taking a vacation, whether spending time coaching little league baseball or hanging out at Wrigley Field with the Chicago Cubs, values inform virtually every decision. Values filter inputs and opportunities, sifting through data and relationships to align what you deem important with what you’re willing to give up to acquire it.
Ever run into a stranger and built a quick friendship? Everything seemed to “click” and then not long after it becomes apparent that what is important to your new acquaintance is really not important to you. Or worse, your preferences are polar opposite. Your values may be very different.
Values have emotion at the core. When our values align, we “feel” good. When our values don’t align, we “feel” uneasy, uncertain, fearful. Something isn’t right!
When you make a purchase and something doesn’t quite seem right, or a relationship is questioned, often you suspect there is something awry. There could be misalignment between what you deem important and what you thought you were getting in return for what you invested. When values align–with another person, a product or a service–you feel good investing time, money and resource.
These shared values motivate us to move into the next stage: Shared vision.
Vision is emotional, too, because a vision, at its root, is based on values. Values help us see what is important to us. And when an event occurs, or we see something that frustrates us, it is likely that something or somebody is preventing us from fully experiencing what we want (based upon our values). We can often see what needs to change, and want to dig in and fix it. This process of creating an environment where we can live in peace with our shared values, is the pursuit of a vision.
Frustrated values lead us to a desired vision of the future. If we share values with another, we can easily move to a shared vision. This is the power of “what if?”, or as others might say, “why not?” This shared vision is powerful. It can ignite imagination for problem solving, it fuels personal engagement and sacrifice. It can quickly be passed to others, outside your sphere, to others who share the same values, and see the same obstacles. Like a virus, it can be shared with many whom you will not know. It can be shared quickly across networks, groups, geographies, cultures, languages.
If the values are shared and the obstacle is similarly recognized, people share in the desire to overcome that obstacle. This is vision. It is not limited by formal communications, but often skims across informal networks at lightning speed, capturing imagination, support and advocacy. It is unbelievably powerful to create and drive change within social networks, in organizations, companies, markets, communities – wherever people share like-values.
Of course, sharing values with another and having a shared vision is meaningless unless action to achieve that vision is taken. A vision without action is fantasy and a pipedream. Fools are readily recognized to be “dreamers” where a good idea never becomes reality.
Ensuring a Vision
Once the vision is understood, it is always important to build structures to ensure commitments are made and relevant, and that the organization is mature enough to deliver on its promises.
Many times, entrepreneurs can cast a shared vision, based upon shared values and can make personal commitments to assume responsibility, but as the organization grows, they are unable to extend the vision into specific strategic and tactical efforts (a plan) that demonstrates an organization’s ability to deliver on its promise. To counter this, the visionary leader will translate a good idea into a good plan, then recruit, train and deploy people to deliver on the promise, and the organization scales up. Progress toward a vision is hard, continuous work.
As such, for the healthy, growing and valued organization the answer to the question “Does vision ever take a day off” is “No.”
Because vision is the north star, there is no day off!