Saturday, February 28, 2009

How to Develop Your Vision - Part 1


There is a lot of talk about creating and maintaining a vision, especially as part of a CEO's job. In my opinion, 'vision' is a term that is both greatly overused as well as largely misunderstood. Many people consider vision to be an all-encompassing view of the product or service, while others expand it's meaning to include the entire market and still others believe the term encompasses far more.

Having been personally accountable for a corporation's vision for many years, I believe it encompasses more than what most people think. So, what follows is my definition of vision, and I do not understate the case when I say that, with few exceptions, the lack of a strong vision puts you at a distinct competitive disadvantage.

To begin with, I believe a vision must encompass everything about the business. This includes everything from things as high-level and broad as the organizational chart, right down to details like basic product functionality. It also includes both the strategic and tactical levels of every discipline required to run the business. A vision must include both these levels for every function vis-à-vis, finance, sales, marketing, operations, and product development. Each variable must be imagined over time as a series, because many will change rapidly. Does this sound like a mind-blowing exercise? Yes, it does! Thankfully, since our brains are wired to think visually, and are the most powerful computers on earth, this task is well within most people's intellectual capacity if they have the experience and information. The biggest issue is that most people don't have all the needed information or expertise to understand and design these business models. This is real work, not magic, luck, or the flash of insight that may have been the genesis of a product's unique abilities. As Thomas Edison says "Genius is one percent inspiration and ninety-nine percent perspiration." The exercise of writing a business plan generally fills in much of the vision and is worth the effort even if you throw the plan in the trash when you are done. It can allow the merger of different skill-sets to happen. However, this is not the same as having the experience in one's head, which forces greater discipline and integration and allows the Model to be "run" in the visionary's head.

Why, you ask, must a vision be so elaborate? Because, the purpose of a vision is to have something complete, and against which, you can hold up all major business decisions. It is almost a philosophy for the company to live by. This helps ensure consistency across departmental goals and helps eliminate other major factors that can split a business into fractional pieces, such as two departments going after different objectives, and effectively dividing your resources across these objectives, or even markets.

For the next lesson we'll be going over the vision pie and how to understand its different slices...

Best Regards,
Viktor Stephen

Related Articles:

How to Develop Your Vision - Part 2


Post a Comment