This blog is focussed on vision statement and its relationship with productivity
What are vision statements?
A vision statement says what the organization wishes to be like in some years’ time. It’s usually drawn up by senior management, in an effort to take the thinking beyond day-to-day activity in a clear, memorable way.
For instance, when Jack Welch took over as chairman of General Electric in 1979 , he described a simple future state that he believed was essential for GE’s success: ” We will be #1 or #2 ” in each sector where the company chose to compete
However, my 15 years of corporate experience informs me – Visions are nothing but beautiful statements on walls and websites.
Don’t believe me?
Ask yourself what is the vision of your organisation? I am sure the majority of you don’t know.
The sad bit though is that the vision statements don’t not get crafted by rotating a magic wand. We spend significant amount of time in coming up with them. They are a fundamental part of strategic plan and every effort is made to ensure that they provide purpose but
Arguably more ineffective time is spent
in strategic planning exercises than in
any other areas of corporate activities
– Beinhocker and Kaplan, 2002
So, we can conclude that the time spent in coming up with a vision statement and then not achieving the desired outcome makes this entire process highly unproductive
So, what can we do ?
Let’s look at 2 of the most successful vision stories
What is the secret of their success ?
The very obvious thing is that they were both stories shared versus statements distributed. The 2 other key things that made this delivery work were
1.Paint Evocative Future Pictures
Churchill did not tell this story in a conventional story format but he paints these scenes in a future that people aspire to and this doesn’t have to be a series of events like a conventional story. He paints a picture of British people resisting Nazis to the death, fighting them by land, by sea , by air and so on. Similarly, Martin Luther King Jr says, ” I have a dream that one day four children will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.”
There is no specific story here but an evocative language which motivates the desired change. They key is to paint aspirational future in variety of places.
You can do this exercise to give this method a go
What is your company’s vision?
What are 2 things that change if you achieve that vision?
Who are the people whose lives change when you achieve the vision?
Now paint a future picture of better life of these people.
2. Lack of specificity
Both the stories do not have specific plans and incidents on how to achieve the desired state and that is the strength of these stories. These states are far in future and no one can predict what the future is. Hence, too much specification will lead to disbelief.
You never craft a vision story to get it 100% right.
You always craft it to motivate people to expend
their energies towards what we consider to
be right at that point
Lets bring this back to productivity and see the difference in delivering a vision statement versus a vision story
Scenario 1: I have a great vision statement stuck on the wall
Scenario 2: I have a great vision STORY that lacks specificity but is highly evocative and I will orally deliver it.
Which scenario do you think moves people to expend their energies in towards the vision? Our answer is pretty clear if we look at Winston Churchill’s :” We shall fight on the beaches ,” and Martin Luther King Jr,’s “I have a dream .” vision stories. They are till today the most successful examples of vision stories that moved people.
In summary, vision statements must be covered in to a vision story. The vision story must be evocative and non specific. The evocative and non specific visions story must be delivered orally. If you have done this, you have moved people. Isn’t that what productivity is all about?
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