By Sean M Driscoll
Have you ever met a true visionary? They can see where it is they want to be and describe that place in great detail. Most won’t bother with defining their vision of the future because they are not sure how to begin the process. The way I describe it to my clients is by relating it to something that they may already be doing.
When people ask me how to create a vision, I start with the end state and use an experience most people are familiar with. A good example to use is planning a vacation. Like most, each year you have done pretty much the same thing, year after year. Being curious and always aware of what’s going on, you believe that there is a better vacation out there. Let’s say a few months after your last vacation you decide to go and do something that will be much more memorable. The memories of the past few years of vacations seem to be running into each other. A good sign it’s time for something new.
For next year you’ve decided to go to the beach. You don’t where the beach is, you don’t know how you’re going to get there, but definitely a beach. You can describe what kind of beach you want though. Real sand, not crushed seashells. Crystal blue water with amenities not right up on the beach but close enough so you’re not roughing it. You’ll want access to sunblock but not have the guy in a tiki hut on the beach peddling it. A place where there won’t be much danger of shark attacks or hurricanes. Not a bad start to how your next vacation should look.
Now comes selling the idea to those who liked going to a themed amusement park year after year. You have seven to ten months to convince them, plan how to get there, and make it happen. As the leader you want everyone on board but you can’t entertain out right refusal to go along. Instead of allowing show stoppers, you ask how to make it work for everyone without distorting the vision. You lay down the must haves and relax most of the other details. You have to realize that one or two may refuse to go. That’s why you have relatives, a place for those who prefer not to go along with realizing the vision.
This is a good point for a process check. If a majority of people don’t want to go along with your trip to the beach then you haven’t been listening to your peeps. Either that or you need to find another group of friends. You have to be confident in your change of course and you have to work at communicating why. This is something you may have to practice to improve.
With the majority on board it’s now time to plan how to get there. The first thing to do is brainstorm on the three to five things that have to drastically change to be able to go somewhere different. The cost is going to be higher. Do you save or borrow? You’ll need to take snorkeling lessons. No sense in being that close to crystal clear blue water and not really explore it. The big change may be that you have to learn how to swim first. A third big change may be your wardrobe and this is dependent upon money and taste. Research and analysis is critical. Of all the possible beaches, what kind of people frequent your choice beach. Is there a change in currency, do the locals speak a different language, or what kind of transportation can you use?
With the big, drastic changes identified you need to plan out what you are going to do each month to get closer and closer in reaching your vision. Each of the big changes may take three to five months to achieve so pace yourself. And for each step you take you’ll want to measure your progress. Identify goals for each big change and how to measure them. Focus on result type measures and avoid creating new ways to measure the changes. Next assign people to each of the steps. Give them guidance, provide resources and help remove any barriers to their success. For each step you complete each month you should see improvements in your measures.
Learning how to create, communicate and realize a vision doesn’t come easy to most people. A simple mental exercise can make it easier. The single most significant difference between the exercise described above and realizing a vision for your company is substituting the months for years. Also, every step you take in realizing your vision will make your organization stronger.
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