That vision thing

The vision statement. Most organizations today seem to have one. The question is, do they really have a vision of who they aspire to be? I recently sat down with the CEO of an area company and I asked him about his vision for his organization. He started looking for the company vision statement in the most recent strategic planning document. I interrupted and said there was no need to do this and get the exact words. I was just interested in his vision for the company. He insisted on looking for the documentation.

It’s unfortunate when the leader of an organization cannot articulate the vision of that organization. You can only ask, if the leader cannot do it, how is the rest of the company looking to the future?

Here’s the point: It’s not the vision statement that’s important. What is important is that sense of shared vision that every associate in the company can relate to and articulate in his or her own words. The more simply stated, the easier it is to express. Remember the vision of Bill Gates: “A computer on every desktop.” My guess is that he was thinking that all those computers would probably need software.

Madison’s St. Mary’s Hospital has a simple statement as well as one that goes into a bit more detail. I prefer the simpler one: “Through our exceptional health care services, we reveal the healing presence of God.”

Even our Dale Carnegie Training organization does this fairly well: “To be the global brand of choice in the people side (i.e., organizations and individuals) of learning and performance with multiple distribution channels.”

The right vision can be a powerful tool in moving forward, both individually and organizationally. A few years ago, I was coaching a salesman who was out there going through the paces, without any real sense of direction or vision. When we sat down together, we started talking about where he would like to be one year down the road. I kept asking questions that got him into more detail than he had ever thought of. Questions were related to: income, new client business, more business from existing clients, where he would like to be living, what kind of vehicle he would like to be driving, how he would be recognized by his company, and the list went on. When we met about 1 1/2 years later, he had either reached or exceeded almost every goal he had set in his vision. The vision acted very much like a magnet that drew him to making his dream a reality. That is what a powerful vision can do.

Mike Vance is currently the chairman of the Creative Thinking Association. He is also the former dean of Disney University and had the opportunity to work directly with Walt Disney. He talks about the many, many people who have come up to him over the years and said how unfortunate it was that Mr. Disney died before he had a chance to see the completed Walt Disney World in all its glory. His response is that Walt Disney probably saw Walt Disney World in even more detail and glory than we see it today.


In our rapidly changing business environment, vision (not a vision statement) is more important than ever before. Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Foursquare did not even exist a few years ago. Yet individuals with an incredible magnetic vision, who shared that vision and got other people onboard, brought these new organizations to life.

So where do you see yourself and/or your organization down the road – in one year, three years, five years? Start building that magnet that will draw you to that vision. Get excited! Get the team onboard! Make it happen!

And finally, remember that any road will get you there if you know where you are going.

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