Helen Keller was once asked if she could think of anything worse than being blind and deaf. “Yes,” she said, “being able to see but having no vision.”
What is your vision for your organization? Where do you want to be a year from now? Five years from now? Do your people have a vision? Do they share in your vision? It has been said “Without vision, the people will perish.” And so will organizations.
In his book “The One Thing You Need to Know,” Markus Buckingham says the primary role of a leader is to “clarify the future” — to create and communicate a compelling vision. How do we do that specifically?
When we work with the top leadership of companies, we recommend a three-step process to develop a compelling, relevant vision that will inspire the organization to greatness.
Step 1: Expand your perceptual map.
Your perceptual map is your world view. Do you have a big, expansive world view? If you do, you will have more and better ideas for your vision.
It has been said that we are today the same as we will be tomorrow except for three things:
1 — The people we meet. Tip: Get involved in a peer review group.
2 — The places we go. Tip: Go benchmark top companies.
N3 — The books we read. Leaders are readers. Set a goal to read the Wall Street Journal’s top 10 best-selling business books each year.
Expand your perceptual map and you’ll improve your vision.
Step 2: Wave your magic wand.
If you could wave a magic wand and, when you walk into your office or company tomorrow, it is just the way you want it. What would it look like? When we ask this question in a leadership workshop, there are many ideas ranging from “everybody is positive and productive” to “our profits are off the chart.” Pick two or three of the best ones.
Step 3: Make your vision measurable.
Put metrics to your magic wand answers. You need to answer the question, “How will we know when we’ve succeeded?” Rather than just visualizing productive sales associates, visualize an average GCI or the number of transactions per associate.
How about a specific profit or market share? The gold standard for many companies is to be able to outperform the market, i.e. if the market is up 15%, we want to exceed that. Outperforming the market always increases market share.
A great vision statement should be bold, measurable and written down. As a leader, you are responsible for the vision, for clarifying the future, and for taking your company from vision to shared vision (which we’ll cover next time).
At the grand opening of Disney World, Roy Disney was the CEO of Disney as Walt had died several years earlier. A reported commented to Roy, “This place is so incredible! It’s just too bad Walt isn’t here to see it.” Roy Disney replied, “Oh, Walt saw it alright. That’s why it is here.”