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Vision: Can you see any?

In today’s postmodernist world of proportional politics and minimalistic risk management styles, vision is a rarely seen quality! I’m not referring to wrong vision or poor vision or even misguided vision; it’s the total lack of vision that is both common and concerning in contemporary corporate life.

In this blog, I intend to share some of my observations and beliefs on the topic of vision. Let’s start by defining vision; specifically, the type of vision that transforms an organisation. Perhaps the best way to describe vision is to start with what vision is not.

  • Vision is not an unfulfilled dream. Plenty of people dream but few of us can claim to be truly visionary. There are a plethora of organisations that have failed because they chased a dream that was either unquantifiable or unrealisable.
  • Vision is not mission; mission has to do with the operational practicalities of an organisation and its corporate purpose.
  • Vision is not tangible; you can’t touch vision but it can be felt. It’s not physical but it’s truly powerful.
  • Vision is not an instrument to be used by motivators; neither is it a product of motivation (indeed motivation is a common product of vision).

 So what is vision and how does it impact business?


Exactly what vision is or how vision is defined, how vision is best sold, and how vision is implemented could be argued to be in the domain of opinions; and the following is mine.

Vision is created by imagination, seeded by ambition, grown by tenacity, nurtured by skill, protected by passion and harvested by endurance! Vision has the inherent power to ignite enthusiasm, to attract and unite support, to bring focus, coherence and agreement to purpose and process, to achieve the yet unconceived, to overcome seemingly impossible obstacles and to realise the end objective. Vision is rare, precious and inspirational.

Modern history teaches much about vision. By the late 1950s, there were relatively stable economies in the majority of developed western nations. Science, medicine, industry, agriculture, media and academia were all making steady incremental improvements and progress. Yet there was a global void of spectacular vision.

On 25 May 1961 (when the space program was still in nappies) President John F Kennedy made an address to Congress in which he outlined his vision, a vision of extraordinary magnitude; to not only have men land on the moon but to have them safely return to earth. (audio link http://www.jfklibrary.org/Asset-Viewer/Archives/JFKWHA-032.aspx)

 Despite many sceptics who thought such a feat could not be accomplished, Kennedy’s vision became a reality on July 20, 1969, when Apollo 11 commander Neil Armstrong took a small step for himself and a giant step for humanity, leaving a dusty trail of footprints on the moon. Along with Michael Collins and Edwin “Buzz” E. Aldrin Jr., all three men made it safely back to earth.

 Such a vision is transformational.

 So here’s the thing, vision itself is a gift, but communicating and achieving one’s vision is a learned skill. Visionary leaders do whatever it takes to achieve the desired outcomes; they take as many people as necessary on their journey and they never stop selling their goal to anyone who will listen.

 Indeed communication is a cornerstone skill of a visionary. A leader with a vision is always communicating his/her vision; initiating conversations, explaining, updated and exploring.

 Retired Apple CEO, Steve Jobs is a renowned visionary and a master communicator. I admire the way that he regularly blends a mix of introducing enticing curiosity and delivering a comprehensive solution.

 A time-proven method employed by many CEOs is to introduce their vision incrementally and strategically; bit by bit ensuring that they get every key stakeholder onboard and in harmony. Their commitment to the vision needs to be wholly convincing and conspicuously contagious; sufficient to enthuse and engage all necessary participants.

 Successful leaders, having announced their vision they continually orchestrate occasions that will remind people about the progress being made thereby maintaining momentum. Contributors to the vision are frequently encouraged for their ideas, effort and accomplishments. The collective of individuals that commit to and subsequently invest in the vision create exponential advancement, hence the synergy of vision and stakeholders produce otherwise inconceivable outcomes. It’s not only the beneficiaries of a successful vision that are usually grateful; it’s all those who considered themselves part of the journey.

 Russell’s Tip: If you have a vision, develop it, then announce it, then sell it, then begin to produce it, then keep selling it and producing it until you realise it.

 A world without vision is a world heading headlong towards extinction. An organisation without vision …