Why a vision?
Successful companies have a clear vision of where they want to be in the future and connect their goals with it.
A German study even states that organizations that spend 3 percent of their time thinking about their future account for 70 percent of their revenue.
What is your vision?
Contrary to popular belief, such a vision is in no way reserved for multinational corporations. The clear goal in mind is actually an instrument to develop one’s own business ‘from the garage’.
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A good view in 8 steps
When developing a vision, the following steps are important:
Step 1. Involve others
Involve others, for example from your organization or circle of friends, or think of knowledge experts or partners. By putting together a ‘leadership team’, you organize the involvement and understanding of the choices you make in the process.
Make sure the following factors ‘DITTEAM’ are represented in your leading group:
- dinterface – Engage people who can help execute the vision successfully
- IInnovative – Get resourceful people on board
- tTime – Make sure your team has time to develop the vision and put it into practice
- tunconventional – Involve independent thinkers
- EEnthusiasm – Make sure the line of sight is not seen as a burden but as an opportunity
- -oneAmbition – Involve energetic people who dare to put their shoulders to the wheel
- mdisciplinary – choose not just controllers or just strategists, but unite multiple backgrounds and insights
The most successful visions are broadly rooted in the organization. There is much more knowledge about the future and organization of your business than you think. Use this.
Step 2. Create a mission
Mission is often confused with vision, but it is something completely different. A mission describes the thought you do things from and what your added value is in the world.
A mission statement is usually a sentence. For the grapple crane manufacturer Jansen BV, for example, this will be: “Improving the transport of bulk goods around the world“.
Think about your course. Why is your business on the ground and what do you want to pass on? Reason for this from the past and your organization’s identity.
Step 3. Explore the development
Many companies only look at the short term for their business operations. This is actually strange, because the biggest challenges and opportunities lie in the medium term, in trends that can already be partially observed.
Examine the key trends and developments that will affect your organization in the years to come.
In his famous book ‘The living company’, Arie de Geus came to the conclusion that successful companies’to feel’ what is happening around them, to respond step by step.
During your exploration, you need to look closely at what dilemmas trends are causing for your business. For example, do you still want to produce yourself in a globalizing world, or can you import cheaper from Asia?
Step 4. Explore the consequences of choices
Choosing a particular, powerful direction means you run into dilemmas. Develop differently target scenarios about where you want to go helps explore what your organization would look like and also what desirable and unwanted effects this would have.
A local bank that wanted to work from a personal approach imagined two scenarios.
- In one scenario, they would choose an efficient bank where they can help people as efficiently and in detail as possible using ICT and data.
- In the second scenario, they would choose a more expensive face-to-face contact while retaining physical locations.
The target scenarios were processed into live images and examined in detail for desirability and advantages and disadvantages.
Step 5. Decide what you are no longer doing
In addition to desirable ambitions, goal scenarios also provide insight into what you find least attractive. Use it. Visions only become powerful when you choose what you no longer want to do.
This is the most difficult part of vision formation, but it gives your organization a clear course and provides space to focus all activities on it.
For example, Jeff Bezos, founder of Amazon, explicitly chose to only sell books and excel in it. Bezos also did not choose short-term profit, but a company with long-term returns.
In the 1990s, Philips made the effective decision to stop using incandescent bulbs, which once constituted its core business, and to further specialize, including in medical treatment. Because the ‘bulb’ was part of the identity, it made the choice even more difficult. Nevertheless, that election ultimately contributed to the profits.
Step 6. Sketch an inspiring picture on one A4
Now that you have weighed the pros and cons and made difficult choices, what does the dream future look like for you? What kind of vision do you have for your business and what position do you have in your market?
Reason for the future: “In 2030, my BV Jansen will be a leading global player in the production of grab cranes. Employees enjoy working for the company and help with innovation“.
Research into the most successful vision documents shows that they are short and inspiring, without difficult words or jargon. Use not only words but also pictures. Think in metaphors; How do you approach others with your vision of the future?
According to management thinker Warren Bennis, a vision is successful if you once heard it can not forget. Then paint an ambitious and inspiring picture!
Step 7. What do you want to achieve and when? Choose BHAGs!
In 1961, President Kennedy delivered one of history’s most famous visionaries. He wanted a man on the moon in 1970 and back in good health. Although his scientific advisers protested that this was far from possible, Kennedy suggested taking the goal as his starting point.
The question should not be whether the goal could be achieved, but how. In 1969, through smart project management, it was possible to get the first man back and forth to the moon. This example shows that a sight can be sharp and daring.
Therefore, include bold concrete real goals (BHAGs). Management guru Jim Collins (author of the bestsellers “Built to Last” and “Good to Great”) calls them: Big Hairy Audacious Goals. Goals that are difficult to achieve, but within the possible. He researched why some companies are so successful and others are not.
His main conclusion: successful companies have a clear picture of where they want to be in the future and connect their goals with it.
Feasibility may be contested by the outside world, but should not be seen as impracticable by the internal organization. Many goals in visions are not achieved within the term, but the tight setting of goals and deadlines sets an organization in motion.
Well-known successful BHAGs are: “Bring Microsoft Software Into Every Computer In Every Home”. Large consulting firms like McKinsey also put vision and shared values at the center of their model for a good organization.
Step 8. Putting the vision into practice
You are not only there with a dream image. Choose a series of strategies for each core ambition on how to achieve this. It would, for example. Jansen ‘wants to be a leader in grab cranes’ undertake a trade mission to China, where there is currently a high demand for grab cranes.
‘leading’ can also mean increasing knowledge through a partnership with a college or university. Jansen BV can ensure that employees ‘work with pleasureby examining the needs of employees. Better perks maybe or more company outings?
After determining the strategies, you check for yourself how they are measured. For example: this year, the goal is to undertake at least one trade mission, organize two company excursions and explore the desires of employees. How to make your vision a “SMART” step by step (sspecific, medible, -oneacceptable, Rrealistic and ttimed) and practical, actionable strategy.
After going through all the steps, you have a vision document. Make sure it is a simple, clear and visually appealing document, and distribute it. Components: vision, mission, vision for the future, core ambitions, strategies. When done right, the vision is unforgettable and the document rarely needs to be seen!
Whether you are a beginner or have been an entrepreneur for years, setting specific goals is an important skill.
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About the author
The author is drs. Wybren Meijer, senior consultant at Futureconsult, a consulting company specializing in vision and strategy development. He co-wrote the releases “Future Visions as Castor Oil” and “Wijzer in de Toekomst”. He gives masterclasses and workshops at, among others, the Management Academy and Nyenrode Business University. Four times a year, Futureconsult gives an open masterclass to Focus Conferences at Nyenrode, where organizations work with their own future management.