Destination: Vision

There are many reasons to have a vision for yourself and for your team.  The vision provides motivation, direction, priority and context to name a few.    

The vision is a big idea, it is lofty, but it is still not everything.  Think of it like a destination. We usually do not leave the driveway with the sole purpose of driving aimlessly, but of course it happens once in awhile because we left and really had no idea where we were headed.  In this way, vision provides direction.  In your car, you make choices about what turns to make or not to make based upon the destination.  

Getting to a destination requires knowing the direction.  To get to a vision, we have to have strategy.  Strategy is the means by which we will get to the vision.  How do we identify strategies.  A good start is to look at what you are already doing.  If you clustered your daily activities together into different types of activities these are usually your strategies.  Email, update meetings, writing newsletters might be clustered into communication. Whereas setting up store displays, marking prices and writing slogans on the window front might be might be part of  your sales strategy.  These two clusters, communication and sales are, for example, your strategies to achieve your vision.  From this kind of review you may find there are other strategies, requirements, to achieve your vision or that each strategy is not really well supported.  

When traveling we use a lot of gauges to help us measure our distance to the destination.  In this way we need to have measures to know if we are headed in the right direction and how quickly we are moving to that destination. Each strategy should have a measure or two associated with it.  This is not as easy as a fuel gauge.  Often these measures are qualitative, but try hard to make them quantitative.  What does a good communication strategy look like?  Is it that you put out a newsletter or is how many you put out?  Maybe it’s how many newsletters get read or how many people act on what you wrote in your newsletter?  The measure should actually have something to do with your vision.  If your vision has to do with increasing the number of customers, then perhaps success in your communication strategy should have something to do with how many new customers are generated by your newsletter.

Only once you know what you are measuring, (distance to destination, time to destination, rate of fuel consumption) can you start to construct meaningful actions. Meaningful means that your actions will move you closer to your vision.  You may believe that your actions are moving you closer, but only with measure will you know for sure.  In this example, are you providing some way for new customers to identify themselves? Are you actually delivering the newsletter to people who can become new customers?  These are examples of actions that will move you closer to the vision.  It is amazing how many actions we take that do not fit within a strategy and do not move us closer to the vision.  

While driving, we need to check those gauges often and adjust accordingly–not too fast, not too slow, shift gears.  Use what you are measuring to set goals: by a certain date you want to be going a certain speed?  Check in often–every day, week, month depending upon the rate of change for goal. When you meet the goal celebrate like you just got home from a 2-hour long commute.  It was difficult, but you hug your kids in celebration.  

This is not to suggest that meeting a goal is meeting your vision.  In reality you have many goals to measure many actions.  These actions are to support a few key strategies and these few key strategies support a singular vision.  That’s where you are headed.

Jonathan Shaver