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If you were to see the many things that people all over the world have in common, one that stands out is that we humans work best with a goal at hand. This is much more meaningful than working in a vacuum without a direction. In a recent assignment, I was asked to help an organization work towards formulating their vision.  Simply stated, a vision is an idealized description of a desired outcome for your organization. It reflects what you would like your organization to be. It includes all that would inspire and energize you to achieve that outcome.

An interesting exercise that we often conduct is to have groups of executives work towards determining their vision for their organization or team. In the form of questions, here are my 7 Steps to Formulating Your Vision:

  1. Where Are We Now ? : The first step is to capture the current situation. We cannot ignore what is happening around us nor can we work in isolation hence awareness of our present state- with its advantages and disadvantages is but the first logical step.
  2. Where Do We Want To Go? Where Do We Want To Be?: At this stage, it is more important to describe the kind of organization you would like to be. What would you be best known for? What would typify your organization in the eyes of your customers and business associates? What would your employees say about you? This definition translates to a goal for the organization as a whole. It is, in effect, our vision.
  3. Why Is This Important To Us? At times, organizations prepare vision statements more as a fad or something which they need to do since almost everyone else is doing it. Making a vision statement without understanding  why it is important to us as an organization is meaningless. The vision statement is not merely a rallying cry. We need a specific strategy to work towards it. Why we need a vision is important for it helps us fashion this strategy.
  4. What Are the Obstacles In the Way? : Knowing what we want is one thing, knowing how to get there quite another. It is useful to identify in a proactive manner the possible obstacles that we foresee in the way to achieving our vision. These obstacles may be geographic, may be related to people or to financial resources or even environemnttal factors that could adversely impact our actions.
  5. What actions can we take to overcome them? : The next crucial step is to identify the actions required to reach our vision. Who will do what and when? What changes are clearly within our control and can be initiated early? What would need time and effort to initiate in the longer term? These actions are the most important part of the execution otherwise without them the vision remains a dream.
  6. What are our priorities?: It is tempting to try to change everything at once. Prudence dictates that we work on the basis of defined priorities. Without priorities, we could squander valuable resources, time and effort in working on relatively less important actions.
  7. When do we know we are on track?: Knowing how we are doing is an important element in implementing any change process. We need to monitor results against stated actions and track our progress towards achieving that vision.

This exercise can be very richly rewarding for the team as it captures their inputs and thoughts about what they want their organization to be. An additional advantage is that they buy in to specific actions- required to be executed to remove the obstacles in achieving the vision. This helps gain their personal commitment as against it being seen as a task pushed down their throats by upper management.

A well crafted visioning exercise – and many have gained by it- can bring about a major impact on any organization.

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This is Post No: 309 of the “A Step A Day” series : To provide perspective and provoke thought to facilitate self-development across a wide spectrum of issues- big and small- crucial for executive success.