“The greatest danger for most of us is not that our aim is too
high and we miss it, but that it is too low and we reach it.”
The absolutley toughest challenge for leaders is to change the way we think. Specifically, how can we get better at creating that ‘vision thing’.
Definition: An exercise to help leaders visualize how to get to the place where the company wants to be.
You’ll want to paint a picture that gets people excited and shows them just what their company can become.
The question right now is not about how to operationalize your vision—it’s not about how many plants or how many people you’ll need in order to make the simplest and most obvious (and most necessary) items happen. Instead, you want to come from the future and see just what your company can be. Later, you will worry about how to turn this vision into a reality. You cannot create a new reality until you ﬁrst create a new vision.
Companies frequently lack alignment between what people are doing and where they really want to go. John Kotter of the Harvard Business School deﬁnes leadership as a three-part process—establishing a vision, creating alignment, and motivating and inspiring. Visioneering is part one of that three-step process.
Test both sides of your brain.
Linear-minded folks like ﬁnance people or engineers sometimes struggle with this, so have them draw images that paint a picture of the future. Typically, people will draw pictures of bridges, rivers, mountains, and even spaceships hurtling through galaxies to depict the direction a company is taking, the means by which it will travel, and what roadblocks and obstacles it will face.
The exercise demonstrates some of the attributes of the future state of affairs, which everybody needs to see, because the company’s not there yet!
One company created I know created a graphic of the United States back when the interstate system was being built during the Eisenhower administration. Where was the company at that point? On the East Coast. They group knew they’d have to cross the Rockies, ford rivers, go through dangerous territories on their way to the Golden Gate that symbolized the American West on their map. This didn’t necessarily mean that the company was starting to market its products in California. It was just a visual metaphor for the idea of growth.
With a metaphor in mind, it becomes easier to discuss questions like what does it mean to be nationwide?, what does it mean to be global?, and what does it mean to have this new product set?
Somehow, a picture makes ideas more real.