Vision Failing? It's Not Your Eyesight

Your company needs a Vision. 

But so what? How many times have we heard this? 

The Vision-thing’s been overused so often that many CEOs see it more as a perfunctory act. Sure, we go through the required steps of creating a Vision. We have lots of meetings, call in experts, do analysis, or just write one ourselves. 

But has having a company Vision become a “commodity” advice?

When we began researching the success rate of Vision efforts, it was hard to ignore that many bankrupt companies have Visions. And many companies currently losing market share have Visions. 

Surprisingly, most of these companies paid a lot of money to industry experts to help them create their Vision. 

So what was missing? 

We discovered a number of patterns existing in the failure data. Two key ones are: 

Failure of Strategic Viability. Good Visions bring the strategic edge alive for an organization. Without a clear strategy, Vision creation is doomed. So, ensure you have a strong strategy that drives sustainable competitive advantage before finalizing your Vision. The former CEOs of Intel, Braniff, Data General, and others who had terrific Visions provide insights on what happens when this is missing. Their organizations are dead. 

Safety Tip: Regarding strategy, the failure rates are over 70%. As I mention in my books and articles, ensure that your facilitator avoids the "analysis" dimension. Our research at Hopkins with our colleagues at Harvard and Wharton finds that it’s not about analysis; even though that is what’s generally taught. The secret is “intuition”. Ensure your Vision is intuition-based and drives the factors necessary for execution.

Inability to Drive Beliefs. Visions drive the behaviors of the people. Visions inspire the decisions and actions of an organization. Many Visions, however, are merely descriptive content. No one is driven by promised land in the future based on uninspiring facts and descriptions. Does your Vision inspire passion?

Safety Tip: Visioning is corrupted or derailed when the psychiatric-scale for cognitive-complexity (ref to the research of Dr. Elliott Jaques) of the members on the Vision team is low. Strategic leaders need to be able to see the big picture, and translate that into a belief-driven dimension. 

With these 2 foundations in place, you’ll have a successful Vision creation experience. It’s all based on thousands of years of research, so the evidence for success exists.