Your job title begins with “Chief” so I am fairly certain that at some time you have participated in a workshop or meeting which involved a discussion of Vision, Mission and Values or perhaps something similar using the most recent branding vernacular. I’m often surprised and sometimes taken aback when I work with clients and they regard this as a chore and a challenge. I won’t dwell on the mission and values too much in this column because while they are important, they don’t define the heart and soul of an organization in the way that Vision does.
Occasionally leaders are born visionaries and know their life’s purpose from the day they begin their enterprise, others evolve and hone their vision using a regimented set of processes and some are surprised when their purpose comes to them one day in a flash of inspiration. However it happens, all leaders should have a crystal clear expression of their vision driving them forward every day right? Well… in my experience not necessarily. It seems odd that smart, senior, driven executives often struggle to articulate the world they dream of seeing as a result of their endeavors. Let’s explore why that might be…
Many leaders see vision as a target. In a day-to-day world driven by goals and KPI’s they feel comfortable talking about defined parameters of time, resources and results. Vision requires us to let go of those constraints and think in a different way. Goals and milestones are “SMART” (specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and time-bound), vision is by definition almost none of those things. Take Disney’s vision as an example – “let’s make the world happy” – there’s no timeline or scale of measurement there (unless you count “the world” as a defined quantity!) and it’s certainly not attainable, but it does provide shared purpose, direction, accountability and inspiration.
When Purple Asia works with clients, we always begin with this quote as a roadmap:
Vision Requires Courage
Big ideas, enterprises, products, and services are sustained by organisations who have the ability to imagine what others cannot see and the tenacity to deliver what they believe is possible.
Behind every successful brand are leaders who inspire others to see the future in a new way.
CEO’s and leaders I have met in this dynamic market are definitely brave, and yet many of them seem fearful of making that leap of faith to express their inspirational vision of the future. I think sometimes they feel that externalizing that bold statement may be interpreted as arrogant or pushy. A client recently said “that doesn’t feel like us”, but when pushed they agreed that it did sound like who they would like to be. A vision statement isn’t about who you are today or what you will do at work next week, it’s about the future you would like to see.