Your last 5 years may have been driven by mission; make sure your next 5 is led by vision.
A compelling vision arises not as a dream or aspiration of what can be, but a passion and conviction for what must be. Rather than simply a corporate identity statement that everyone can remember, a true vision contains the following elements:
- Insight (key truths or compelling revelation about future reality)
- Understanding (foundation of rightly interpreted truth about current context and situation)
- Defining Strategy (what to do and why, when to do what, where to be and how, etc…)
The first two elements lead to the raison d’être, or reason for being, of the organisation, and are generally uncovered through periods of wide reading, honest dialogue, and deep reflection. But it is the third, the defining strategy, that makes or breaks an organisation. Driving your organisation without one is like flying a plane without an engine.
Manage the top line: your strategy, your people, and your products, and the bottom line will follow. ~ Steve Jobs ~
Many organisations sport a handy vision-mission statement, typically constructed as a rough set of organisational identifiers, cobbled together by some hasty consensus, to express an organisation’s core activities and broad intent to employees and stakeholders. While this works well as a communications tool, it typically lacks sufficient operational depth, strategic clarity and certitude to mobilise critical resources and guide the prioritisation of focus in an environment of competing time, space and other demands.
A defining strategy will most likely have to go beyond a few neat statements. It is akin to a carefully plotted line of advance mapped against a detailed operational terrain, like with this blue ocean strategy canvas. With it we can chart our progress towards actualising a true vision. As with any terrain mapping, start by identifying the strategic nodes of influence in your area of operations. Here are some key starter questions:
- Current critical gaps / needs – What are people in a particular market or group all looking for or seeking now?
- Emerging critical gaps / needs – What fundamental shift is going to happen? What will people be seeking?
- Strategic products / services that can grow to become a node of influence
(End state) What desired service / product can we deliver to build a meaningful influence in that space?
(Critical path) What is an efficient route to achieving this, in what time frame?
(Resources) What are the people & talent, time & money, knowledge & tools needed?
Is your organisation stalling despite the presence of a vision-mission statement? Maybe it’s time to develop a defining strategy.