When Organisational Visions are Statements of Delusion
For over a decade I worked with organisations in for profit, not for profit and government sectors. I’ve advised organisations in Europe, North America, Asia and beyond. Some organisations have been multi nationals, long standing, privately owned, publicly held, socially aware, profit focused and more. I’ve managed million dollar portfolios and client accounts of just one. I’ve been engaged for a mere hour up to projects lasting a number of years. And of all areas of operation, I’ve discovered just one area that connects all organisational types – the Organisation’s Vision
If you’ve followed any of the stories on LinkedIn, HBR, Success et al and beyond, there’s a fair chance that you’ve read about the ‘importance of a Vision’ or ‘Why the Leader’s Vision is paramount’ and ‘How to get others to follow your Vision’ and so on. It’d be fair to conclude that, based on the sheer volume of stories that discuss leadership and business results and organisational culture and the like, that everyone pretty much has the idea of Vision bedded down to a fine art.
So now, as a specialist assisting organisations to make better decisions about their future, allow me to offer the following thought for your consideration and cogitation:
Most Organisational Visions are Statements of Delusion
Please believe me when I say that in a number of cases with this assessment, I’m being kind.
Thankfully the situation is not irretrievable. Far from it. And the change required from delusion to enlightenment is a discipline that few organisations are aware is required. It is NOT that the Vision is not encased in a sphere of positive intent – most organisations I have worked with and for truly did want to achieve great things. The leadership team really did want to set the bar high, to leave a legacy of greatness.
Sadly, the vast majority will come no where near achieving the Vision they have set, not for lack of desire, but for lack of process. And lacking in an effective process, the Organisational Vision is little more than a statement of delusion.
Here then is the key for ensuring a Vision is Outcome focused, not dreaming focused.
1) If your Vision has been created top-down, expect ongoing difficulty with achieving it. Top down Visions are fine, but they are NOT your Organisation’s Vision, they’re YOURS. Until you can show your employees how achieving YOUR Vision will help them to achieve THEIR Vision, you are kidding yourself if you believe that your Vision will help drive performance or change culture.
2) If the Organisational Vision is not referred to at every meeting, you aren’t keeping the focus on the final desired destination.
3) If your Vision contains elements that you ALREADY have, then it is no longer a ‘Vision’. Once achieved, your Vision should change to something you want, not something you have.
4) The second biggest cause of delusion with Organisational Visions is a failure to specifically identify the capabilities required to deal with those barriers/obstacles/opportunities that are between you and your Vision. If you do not have the required capabilities you can NEVER achieve your Vision and it is delusional to think otherwise. Start identifying and building the capabilities you need
5) If your Vision does NOT have a stated end date, you’re engaged in delusion. This is the area I get the biggest push back from others in my field and often from senior management teams and boards. And let me tell you this – drawing a line in the sand, fixing an ‘end date’ is the spark that will set you on your way. Without an end date you’ll drift aimlessly and your organisation will lack accountability – you’ll be deluded into thinking you are making progress
So there you have it. The challenge is not insurmountable and it does require discipline. It is likely you DO have the capabilities to ensure your Organisational Vision can pull you forward, can drive results, can enthuse the workplace. And the process is what is needed to maximise the value of your Organisational Vision. Merely having one without the discipline to attainment, is delusion.
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