Does your vision sound something like this? – Our vision is to provide aggressive strategic marketing with quality products and services at competitive prices to provide the best value for consumers.
Bad news. You have a blah, blah, blah vision. Do yourself and everyone on your team a favor – take it down.
You have two choices. You can decide you don’t need a vision and get on with your work.
Or… you can engage with your team in creating a DRIVING vision – one that lives in the hearts and minds of everyone and naturally drives behavior and decisions.
A DRIVING vision is a clearly-articulated, results-oriented picture of a future you intend to create. It is a dream with direction.
When it is shared, it generates a tremendous amount of energy that drives you where you want to go. If you are in doubt, here are eight ways vision creates a powerful, driving force.
The 7 Characteristics of a DRIVING Vision
When your vision meets these seven criteria, it will drive you in the right direction.
D – Demanding purpose
The invitation and opportunity to achieve greatness excites and enlivens us. A noble purpose that challenges us to rise to our potential is inspiring and appeals to our natural human instincts. It helps us understand the importance of our work and gives meaning to our daily activities.
R – Results-oriented
A vision describes a clear picture of what the future will look like – something you can actually see in your imagination. It is a picture of the end result – what it looks like when you are fulfilling your purpose. It does not include the process to get there. The vision is the target. The effectiveness of the strategies and goals you set will be tested by how well they move you toward your vision, and often requires adjustment.
I – Illuminates values
It is easier to stay focused and motivated when the vision connects with what we care deeply about – our values. And when the vision has been taken into the minds and hearts of the people, it endures beyond the tenure of the leader who articulated it. Values are implicit in driving visions. (eg. The values in Martin Luther King, Jrs “Dream” are clearly implied: brotherhood, freedom, and dignity.) The values must be fundamentally connected with the organization’s purpose. A vision for a financial services organization might include values like accuracy, reliability and dependability while the vision for an amusement park might include fun and safety.
Creating a vision about what you want – a proactive vision – is what makes it vibrant and energizing. A reactive vision based on negativity and what you want to get rid of is short-lived because it does not take you anywhere. A vision that excludes or does harm to its environment is not sustainable because the organization is part of its environment and ultimately is doing harm to itself.
I – Identifiable
It should explain in plain language what the company is about – what is unique about it that differentiates it from others. A generic blah, blah, blah statement means nothing, makes people lose confidence in the leadership of their company and turns off customers. Too many vision statements are wordsmithed to death.
N – Never-ending
A vision should not be about beating the competition. Where do you go after the race is over? It’s about being the best you can be. An enduring vision continues to provide guidance. The farther you proceed, the clearer your vision becomes and the magnitude enlarges. There is no such thing as a five-year vision, only a five-year goal. The vision answers, “what’s next?” after that goal is achieved.
G – Guiding
When the organization is guided by a shared vision, the role of leadership naturally shifts from “controlling and managing” to “supporting and enabling.” Empowerment only makes sense in the context of a shared vision. When each person understands the vision, is committed to it and sees where they fit and how their actions contribute, they can be trusted to make decisions.
If you are curious whether your team shares a DRIVING vision, here’s a quick 10 question quiz developed from our research and client work. Click here to rate your team vision.
Information on How to Create a DRIVING Vision
My post How to Create a Shared Vision That Works explains the steps to create a DRIVING vision, and our book Full Steam Ahead! Unleash the Power of Vision (Jesse Stoner and Ken Blanchard) provides more depth.
A driving vision may be primary and essential. How does mission connect to vision such that mission driven decisions are what inform and direct the organization? Or are you saying that vision and mission are part of the same fabric? A vision statement can sound very much like a mission statement. How are they different? I have seen a number of visions not grounded in reality. Remember the beginning of the Man from U.N.C.L.E. that starts with “Your mission, if you decide to accept it, is…….” MLK Jr did not say “I have a plan.” He said, “I have a dream” His vision and his mission were clear.
Yes, mission and vision are part of the same fabric. Mission is your purpose. It provides the reason for your actions and goals. Vision is a picture of what your purpose (and values) look like in the future – it shows where you’re going. Mission, values and vision are interdependent, all part of the guiding fabric. My post The Key to Visions That Work provides a deeper explanation of this.
Your ears must have been burning Jesse! (grins)
Guess what I was doing late last night? I had Full Steam Ahead out with a notebook. And I was going back through and jotting notes down based on what I highlighted when I read it last year so I can start preparing to write a post about it! : )
Managed to get half way through the RE-review!
Back to your post here. Love all that you outlined here and especially resonate with N- Neverending.
‘A vision should not be about beating the competition. Where do you go after the race is over? It’s about being the best you can be.’
I probably don’t even need to say that I’m so burned out on America’s over obsession with competition. ‘I have a dream…that one day….so called ‘competing’ companies will actually be collaborative partners in providing goods, products, and services that enhance the life of both the customer and the planet and the most life-sustaining ways. Where ALL learn the power of winning by working together in collaborate ways that share and spread an attitude that there is more than enough to go around IF we share and help one another.’
That’s one facet and segment of my dream. Still working out the ‘blurry to 20/20 vision’ components of the rest! 🙂
Thanks for sharing another great post and at some point in the future, I’ll be emailing you regarding the post I want to write on Full Steam Ahead.
I’m delighted to hear that, Samantha. Vision is an ongoing process, not a one-time activity, and needs to be revisited regularly. The further you proceed in moving toward your vision, the clearer it becomes, and you will see aspects you had not realized before that may steer you in new directions. I’m so glad Full Steam Ahead! can provide you guidance on your journey.
I like the way you spell it out so it’s easier to recall how to tell if your vision is well defined and gets everyone on the same plane of understanding and seeing where they are headed. My favorite is your description under Results Oriented. I’ve never been part of formulating a vision or communicating it either. In all the places I’ve worked, and there are many, I have only once witnessed a well articulated vision. It’s not at all an easy feat and just from what I read in your articles and book Full Steam Ahead, without it organizations and even individuals wander. I’m just now working with a coach on my vision. Thanks for sharing your wisdom and also including resources to help us with the task.
I don’t think your experience is unusual. When people are not involved in creating their team and organizational vision, it’s more difficult for them to relate to a written statement. In Full Steam Ahead, we say what’s important is not only what it says, but how it’s created, how it’s communicated and how it’s lived. Best wishes on your journey in creating your personal vision, Jane!
I wonder if there will be a resounding thud vibrating across the country when vision statement plaques are tossed in the trash cans! I can’t tell you the number of stupid blah-blah visions/mission I have seen over the years. One test is that few can even repeat them. No- employees have to rummage for the card it is written on. AAARGH
How can we get your book into every hand in the U.S. Perhaps if we started with Congress? Imagine the power if that body could at lest agree on the noble purpose, a picture of a future where the United States works for all, regardless of race, gender, and financial status. Guess Ill go back to dreaming
Ha! I would love to hear that resounding thud!
As for Congress – I believe citizens need to send a strong message that we want them to stop this polarization posturing and get back to the business of running this country. There is the basis for a shared vision they seem to have forgotten.
Jesse, you point out the importance of ‘values we care about’ as a success factor for a driving vision. Though you allude to it, I want to reiterate that the key element within ‘values we care about’ is deeply rooted emotional principles. This is present in every potent manifesto; the outcome is the desired intent – igniting people to act. Great post.
A very important point. Thanks for highlighting it, John.
I’d suggest another ‘D’ – namely DYNAMIC. If it is inclusive in its development and is to remain genuine, I believe it should be the subject to ongoing dialogue. And, as warranted, therefore, it should be open to careful revision –> DYNAMIC!!!
Good point, John. I don’t think the fundamentals change, but the closer you get to your vision, the deeper you understand what it’s really about and the externals may shift. It may look on the surface like your vision has shifted, but the essence remains. And that is what makes it dynamic.
This is my second comment and a response to your second posting, apparently. As I read the framed picture, and the title, “Do you have a blah, blah, blah vision or a DRIVING vision” my thought was how some visions are just plain Blah and easy to dismiss or ignore. What a DRIVING vision has is energy and the capacity to inspire. Thanks again, Jesse, for keeping this notion front and center.
Unfortunately vision is still misunderstood and too many organizations lose out on the opportunity to access its power. You might appreciate my article looking at why this has happened: https://seapointcenter.com/vision-is-walking-the-streets/