Developing a Team or Organization Vision
By: Jim Clemmer
Jim Clemmer is an international keynote speaker, workshop leader, author, and president of The CLEMMER Group, a North American network of organization, team, and personal improvement consultants based in Kitchener, Ontario, Canada. His other bestsellers include Firing on All Cylinders: The Service/Quality System for High-Powered Corporate Performance, and his most recent book, Growing the Distance: Timeless Principles for Personal, Career, and Family Success. His web site is http://www.clemmer.net/
As Mark Twain once remarked about the weather, there's a lot of talk about
vision, but very few managers really do anything about it. Visioning is
sometimes an innate natural skill just like leadership sometimes is. And
the moon sometimes blocks out the sun - but none occur very often. Most
people have had to consciously and with great effort continually work to
strengthen their visioning. Visionary leaders are seldom born that way
(how many of those birth announcements have you seen lately?). Nor are
they necessarily charismatic. They have had to work at making visioning
Here are a few pathways and pitfalls to organizational visioning:
Vision is the critical focal point and beginning of high performance. But
a vision alone won't make it happen. Unless the hard work of striving,
building, and improving follows, even the most vibrant vision will remain
only a dream.
- You and your team need to picture and describe your preferred future as
vividly as possible. One approach is to imagine it's five years from today
and you're being interviewed by Fortune magazine, a leading newspaper,
or an industry journalist on the phenomenal success your company or team
have had. Describe the results you've achieved and perhaps the approach
you've used. Speak in the present tense as if it's all happening around
you right now.
- Too many managers try to delegate "the vision thing" to a committee.
It doesn't work. If you're a senior manager, caring for the culture and
providing organization focus isn't just part of your job, it is your job.
- Unless you're an exceptionally clear and inspiring writer, be very careful
about drafting a "vision statement" and using that as your communications
centerpiece. Visions are about feelings, beliefs, emotions, and pictures.
It's very hard to bring those across on paper (especially if the statement
is developed by a committee). Vision ideas or summaries can, and should,
be committed to paper, and widely circulated - but as a "leave behind,"
follow-up, or reminder. Visions are the most compelling when they are delivered
in person by a leader who's an effective communicator. Powerful personal
communication skills and energizing leadership are inseparable. Learn how
to use "impassioned logic" by adding metaphors, stories, models,
or examples to help everyone "see the big picture" and rouse
their emotions to make it happen.
- Your team or organization needs a shared vision, not something that only
a few people own. You need to make everyone a "spiritual stakeholder."
That's usually a cascading process, but it can start in any part of an
organization. Ideally, the senior management team defines the broad parameters
of what business you're in and which direction you're heading. They can
prepare a rough vision for input and refinement or leave things wide open
for the rest of the organization to fill in.
- Invoke pride, stretch everyone's thinking, and stir the will-to-win emotions.
Shoot to shake up the industry or change the rules of the game. Become
the fastest, strongest, highest quality, most innovative, or best at something.