I was having coffee with a friend this morning and she suddenly realized that her glasses were smeared and she wasn't seeing clearly. Isn't that a great metaphor for life and work? We lose the clarity of our vision but it's a gradual process and we don't realize it until it gets really, really bad.
In the business world, "vision" is often considered a buzzword. And sometimes it is. But sometimes it can be a powerful tool -- personally and professionally -- to guide decisions and to motivate desired behaviors.
I advise clients that there should be two parts to a vision -- a descriptive one and a measurable one. In both cases, the vision describes a desired future state. The language should be clear, concise, and compelling. That means it is something you and others can understand, remember and find inspirational. I urge people to use "concrete" language and avoid conceptual constructs that can mean different things to audiences.
For example, I manage a consulting company. Do I aspire to "provide quality service to businesses for their their management consulting needs?" Well, yes. Who doesn't want to provide quality service? I'm a management consultant, so of course I want to work with businesses. Do I think that I can personally meet ALL of their consulting needs? Not so much. How will I know I have succeeded? What measure of quality can I use?
What's important to me is to have impact and repeat clients -- and not to grow a firm with a bunch of other consultants. So my vision is to "Be a trusted advisor to small and medium enterprises by improving organizational performance through process improvement and individual effectiveness, employing a portfolio of professionals as needed." That's the first part, my descriptive statement. It captures my aspirations and is something I can remember and will guide my choices.
Next, let's address the measurable aspect of this vision. Trusted = repeat clients and referrals. Organizational performance = clients' return on investment in my services. Individual effectiveness = subscriptions to my "Master Mind" groups, # of calls for advice. Process improvement = # of strategic planning projects, # of process improvement projects, # of professional selling projects (the three key processes for business development). Portfolio of professionals = collaborative and skilled colleagues that I can reliably call on to deliver the kind of capability and service my clients need, beyond the scope of my abilities. If you cannot measure your vision, it is not clear and concrete enough. And it will not inform your decisions or motivate yourself or your employees.
Can you see what you want yourself -- or your company -- to be in 3-5 years? Is it clear what it will take to get there and how you will measure your progress? Or do you need to clean your glasses?
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