Big hairy audacious goals, 50-100 year visions, mission statements, starting with why – there are as many ways to talk about vision and purpose as there are consultants. But still, with so many folks talking about it there must be something valuable and enduring in this idea of an overarching vision. What is it? Isn’t this some kind of self-congratulatory, navel gazing, feel-good, Kumbaya exercise?
Having a clearly articulated, well communicated vision for your organization isn’t just some consultanty, feel-good activity. In fact, it’s proven to be correlated with higher growth and profits. Here’s why:
- A vision makes everyone feel like they belong.
Belonging to a tribe or a group has deep roots in the human psyche. When we enlist our team in a project that is “bigger than we are” we tap into that deep human need to be part of something, and we can generate motivation and engagement that’s off the chart.
- A powerful vision creates a reason to sacrifice.
Sometimes after a long day, one of your team members may sit at his desk looking longingly at a picture of his family. Why is he putting in those hours? Why is he busting his butt for this company? If the answer is, “To make the owner wealthy,” well, that’s not very compelling. If instead the answer is that his work may change the world – then maybe it’s worth it. Even is your organization isn’t curing cancer or ushering in world peace, your work is serving your customers, and improving their lives and work. But the point is, your team members need to understand the difference they are making in the world, and a vision can help.
- A clear and compelling vision acts like a lighthouse or landmark.
It’s impossible for you to envision all the situations that your organization and team members will end up in, but having a well articulated vision can help them to know what to do — know how to act, what decisions to make — no matter where they end up. The vision helps align the team’s goals and actions – multiplying their effectiveness.
- An honest and compelling vision can stand in your stead and guide the decisions of your team.
Because that vision can provide guidance in uncertain situations, it helps to create independence. The vision can help everyone in the organization to have confidence that they are moving in the right direction, or that their decisions are more likely to be your decisions. If it’s moving the organization closer to living out the vision, then they can safely make that decision knowing that it’s the one you would have made.
- A personal vision can keep you going.
Running a business isn’t always a walk in the park; more often it’s like walking across hot coals (thrilling, but potentially hazardous). What keeps you going? Why aren’t you riding off into the sunset? What do you still need to accomplish? What will bring you esteem from your family and community?
So whether it’s Built to Last helping you to create a 100 vision and a BHAG, or Start with Why helping you to find your purpose, it’s important that you do that work to find the core of the mission, the way that your organization is making a difference. Beyond that, communicate it clearly and repeatedly.
Does your company have a vision? If so, how has it helped your team?