Today’s post is the feature article from the September 2004 issue of The Front Porch Newsletter. If you would like to automatically receive The Front Porch e-newsletter on the last Thursday of each month just click here to sign-up for your complimentary subscription.
You are driving down the street and another driver is weaving inconsistently in and out of three lanes of traffic. They seem to gain ground on all their fellow drivers at the expense of everyone’s safety and effective flow of traffic. Or it may be the experience of following the driver who never got the concept of why we spend millions of dollars painting white lines on black pavement each year — so they straddle two lanes. As you cautiously hold safely behind them, there is likely one thought (at least one that I can print) that comes to your mind. It is the same thought that I recently heard from a speaker addressing the topic of vision at a Leadership Summit — would you pick a lane!!
That is exactly what organizational vision is all about — picking a lane. In last month’s issue, we sat on the “front porch” and began to think about the importance of a meaningful vision. While most people would agree that vision is important, we found from our July survey, only 14% of those responding organizations have an inspiring vision. And only 11% of the individuals responding have a personal vision. It’s not that we don’t understand the concept of vision — it is that visioning is a difficult process.
OK, so I realize the driver that straddles the white lines really does know what they mean. They simply are not focused! So goes the organization or the individual without an inspiring vision. If there was ever a synonym for vision, it’s focus. When we asked our readers the most significant impact of vision, 92% noted better FOCUS. At least two-thirds indicated that vision also impacts trust, quality of decisions, values, retention, clarity and professional development.
I was reminded this week of the increasing need for having a meaningful vision. In preparation for an upcoming keynote on leadership, I interviewed several people who would be attending my presentation. Every single one of them talked about the relentless change in their organization. They seemed fine with the change, but they seemed to have a longing to understand how the day to day changes tied to a bigger picture. We talk a lot about how people resist change. I am convinced they don’t resist it near as much when it is imbedded in their deep connection to an inspiring vision.
Beyond just a picture of the future, vision is the soil of the mind. It is the fabric of which all activities are accomplished, decisions are made, challenges are faced and fulfillment is achieved. But it doesn’t come easily. Our survey readers provided a long list of challenges we face when we get serious about bringing to life an inspiring vision. It’s no wonder that so many give it lip-service, but never really get it done. Some of the most frequently mentioned challenges included:
Making time to create and live it
Aligning agreement and gaining commitment
Developing trust and delivering truth
Delivering leadership’s commitment
Communicating with clarity
Fostering a culture to support it
Committing to the long-term
Responding to external changes
No doubt. These are tall orders. But they only get taller without creating, communicating and cultivating a meaningful vision. Pick a lane — and accelerate!!
ACTION IDEA: Same as last month! Give some serious thought to writing a personal vision statement of WHO you want to be. And then think about the vision of the organization where you work. It is clear? Is it meaningful? Does it inspire? Is it driven to permeate decisions, determine measurements, and give context for rewarding the right people doing the right things? In other words — – is it real?