How Well is Your Vision Understood?

Successful companies are known for the clarity of their vision in guiding the organization toward a long term goal and how well it is understood and accepted throughout the company. Is this true of your organization? What stands in the way of a successful vision?

Where the strategic plan might be referred to as the outline or wire diagram, the vision is the solid model that ties strategies together into a complete picture. The leadership is responsible for framing the vision and the strategies that support it. A successful vision is the sum of not only detail strategic accomplishments but also passion and enthusiasm of employees for the vision.

Test the effectiveness of your company vision by measuring how well the people in your organization can verbalize the vision and how what they do supports it. The vision needs to be shared and adopted across the organization and not just appear on a plaque on the boardroom wall.

Leaders need to get the word out from the executive level down to line managers and then to first level employees. This can be accomplished using a variety of methods such as:

  • Giving life to the vision in a story that others can repeat.
  • Leaders who can effectively communicate a compelling vision in a clear, brief way (“elevator speech”), when they interact with people informally.
  • Use of multiple media channels – slogans, video, handouts – so that people get the vision,
  • Engaging others in one-on-one conversations using personal connections to transmit information and, more importantly, get feedback and clear up misunderstandings.
  • Involve customers, partners and vendors in the messaging path.
  • Back up your vision with actions and behavior that reinforce the vision. People seeing one thing and hearing another can destroy your credibility and compromise the vision.

Many struggle with the vision process and feel that it comes down to just mission. However, a small company that I worked with a few years ago made the transition from just having a mission to also having a defining vision for direction of the company. Consequently they were able to tell a much more compelling story to customers that were looking at why they should have a long-term strategic relationship with them. The new vision was instrumental in establishing business relationships with much larger companies than had been possible in the past.

Test your vision and validate that your organization is behind it. Make sure that your talk is consistent with your walk.

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