Every company has a long term vision, some bigger, hairier and audacious than others. Within the last few years I have seen an increased trend in our industry where more and more companies are refining their corporate vision and implementing several initiatives, leveraging the latest technologies to attain them. Overall, this is great for our industry which has been known for being “traditional”; however, I have also seen many companies struggle to make any progress in attaining their vision. There is never a single reason for this but I have definitely seen that there is a common thread where we try to reach too high too fast, in essence, trying to drive a car before we crawl. The companies that do seem to be progressing toward their vision are looking at how they can take steps towards their vision while supporting their current business on the way there. This subtle but important strategy can be the difference in eventually attaining your vision instead of wasting a lot of your investment and have nothing to show for it.
Importance of a Vision
A vision is important for every single organization. It provides a mental picture of what you want to achieve. To attain the vision there are often some significant investments in $ or effort as well as some calculated risks which will have to be taken. These investments are worth it in the long run but there are also day-to-day benefits of having a clear vision where every single person can make decisions that aid the progress towards a clear objective. It feels better working at a company where everyone knows that what they are doing actually counts, that they are empowered to help achieve a vision, and that everyone is pulling on the proverbial rope in the same direction.
Vision is a Journey
Visions are rarely easy to achieve; if they are, then most likely they are not what many would consider a vision. Visions can take years or even decades to achieve and in some cases might never be reached which is 100% fine. This is why the path toward your vision should be considered a journey. I know it is cliché; however, it is true. You are not going to be able to achieve your vision by completing one thing, it is going to take many things for you to reach it.
Journey Towards Visions Should not Take the Path you Think
For every vision most of us already have an idea of the path we will need to take to achieve it. We are almost always wrong. The reality is that there are many unknowns and obstacles we do not even know about which will require us to pivot our strategy to attain our vision. In many cases new opportunities will also emerge which will also cause us to alter our path. So the path may change but the end goal, the vision, is constant.
Assuming that you “know” the path to take to reach your vision, is where most organizations fail. If you blindly attempt to implement the solution for your vision in one fell swoop you will have a very high probability of failure. This is where you hear the infamous “Big Bang Implementation”. This strategy just looks at the future by sacrificing the present.
Journey Towards Vision While Supporting the Present
We are all in business and need to support our current projects and clients while working towards our vision. We cannot negatively impact our current business as in many cases our current business will be what is funding our journey towards our vision. It is a delicate balance between supporting our current business and preparing for our future business.
The best strategy I have found was to implement the vision in small milestones with every milestone providing value to your organization’s current process. I have talked about this strategy in previous posts and will evangelize this strategy in future posts.
With this Agile/Lean strategy you will be able to:
- Realize benefits to your business as you work toward your vision
- Be able to see if you are on the right path and if you need to pivot (change direction)
- Attain faster return on investment (ROI)
- Build champions in your organization which will improve results in attaining your vision
- Provide your team with gradual and reasonable changes to how they do their work.
- Be less disruptive to your organization’s current projects and business
- Reduce the risk to your business while you are on your journey
Every organization requires at least one Big Hairy Audacious Goal (BHAG) which is your vision. Even though we may have an idea on the path to take to achieve this goal we are almost always wrong and will have to pivot (change direction) along the way. However, the destination, “The Vision”, remains constant.
Attempts to achieve your vision in a single “Big Bang” implementation will almost always end in failure.
The best way to achieve your vision while supporting your present business is to take an Agile approach and have small milestones that have value to the organization by itself. This will allow you to capitalize on your investment much earlier as well as to pivot to a different path when more information and opportunities are discovered.