When we work with business owners, coaching them to improve their businesses, we endeavor to get a sense of their vision for their company. What we have experienced over time is that, though many companies have well crafted and professionally ordained strategic plans they seldom internalize them.
We observe that rarely do many business owners or leaders actually go through the thought process to the point where they can articulate their vision for their company. Most business owners have a vision… sort of, but it is kind of like the vision of a person who has cataracts and their vision is foggy, indistinct, and cloudy. Usually the response we get is a mumbled phrase, something about increasing sales or being the best in their sector or making more money, but we rarely get a well-thought-out, concise, understandable, articulate picture of what they want their business to become in the future.
We know the reason for that mumbled statement is that they have not really conceptualized that important part of their future, or if they have, they have not been able to clarify their vision. So they just give a quick answer designed to sort of satisfy us and probably persuade us to shut up. But we know if we must make a valuable contribution to their business, then we never shut up.
There is one thing we make them appreciate; DIRECTION IS EVERYTHING… if you don’t know where you are going you can’t get lost.
The situation becomes even worse (or less clear) when we talk to the executives, managers, supervisors, and staff of those companies and ask them where they think the company is headed. The answers we receive are usually as clear as mist because very few have ever received the vision from the owner or have ever discussed it. They are in the dark about the company’s future and their personal future. Most people assume that the future will look pretty much the same as it looks today, yet we all know that in our hyper-competitive business climate, that thought is as complacent as it is myopic.
We encourage our clients and staff to have scotoma surgery for their business by spending some time and asking themselves to create a vivid description of the future for their company – what they intend for it to become in five, ten, or twenty years. Progressive companies are those that have made their vision and mission a mantra for its people. Such businesses demonstrate better growth, are more profitable and more likely to reach their goals because they know where they are going or at least, know where they intend to go.
The benefits of the visionary process are huge:
• A company with a clear vision of the future can demonstrate their intentions to their lenders, investors, and other stakeholders. It is much easier to attract capital and loans when needed.
• Having a clear vision of the future makes it easier to attract the best talent because high-achieving people want to work for companies with an expansive future.
• Those with a clear vision of the future use it as a basis for every planning session because the “vision” is the compass for so many operational and strategic decisions, everything from developing next year’s marketing plan to the purchase of a piece of office equipment or software.
• Decisions, especially difficult decisions, are made based on the foundation of the long-term “vision” of the company rather than expediency.
• The “vision” can become an integral part of the branding of the company, its products and services.
If you have created your “vision” for your company and it is a living document, used often as a roadmap to the future, we congratulate you. But if you don’t yet have that clear “vision,” I truly encourage you to craft it by asking yourself questions about your ambition, your goals, and the possibilities that stretch out in front of you and lead to the future. Once you have written out your “vision,” use it as a guide to inspire your team to greater achievement and success. The fog and clouds will disappear. Everyone in the company will be able to envision the future clearly and work together towards it with the
clarity of a new bright dawn.