Organizations that behave strategically own vision. A good vision becomes operational. If the vision sits out at the 10-year horizon and never finds its way into operational influence, it is nothing but a meaningless historical artifact.
Here are 5 ways to own vision:
Start using the vision as a way of framing near-term plans. Ask people to explain how their work, inclusively, from projects to their role to their competencies, fits into the vision. Remind them they don’t need to talk about accomplishing the vision, but they need to be able to illustrate the path.
Use the vision to inform project and initiative decisions. If a project or initiative can’t be tied to the vision, then it should be questioned. And if it is found wanting, it should not be invested in. If, however, a new project or initiative proves valuable, the vision should be revisited to and brought back into alignment with current strategic perspectives.
Bring the vision to every meeting. Eventually, this will be something embedded in the mindset of managers, but in the meantime, make sure that it is available as an input when making strategic decisions.
Talk about the vision in operational terms. Don’t just refer to the vision, but to the elements described by the vision when talking about near-term plans or operational goals. By integrating the vision into the organizational narrative it becomes part of the story and influences people’s thinking. Don’t abandon the dialog once you start consistently hearing it reflected in the narrative because hearing it regularly is just the first step in incorporating it into practice, policies, space, and technology that represent an organization’s culture.
Challenge the vision. The vision shouldn’t be an inviolable document, it should be discussed, referred to and challenged. The world constantly changes and the vision should reflect the realities of the world. If something can’t be accomplished, push it out. If something no longer aligns, take it out. The vision should be as dynamic as it needs to be so it can continue to inspire operational excellence and innovation.
Daniel W. Rasmus
Daniel W. Rasmus, Founder and Principal Analyst of Serious Insights, is an internationally recognized speaker on the future of work and education. He is the author of several books, including Listening to the Future and Management by Design.