Think of all the changes happening rapidly. Technology changes. Demographic changes. Tastes change. Change engulfs us.
Inside organizations, people gather to state their vision in eloquent terms. It usually is some simple statement to guide strategy and goals forward. However, as organizations stumble, the value of vision falters. Vision didn’t keep Kodak on the right path; it didn’t save Montgomery Ward. Pick an organization that has disappeared or nearly evaporated from the competitive landscape and most likely they had a vision statement.
Are Vision Statements Still Valuable?
In many ways, vision statements are not valuable. They become just vacant words, no real action or buy-in supporting them. Or, they become words of why not to change given new conditions. Visions become a beacon of stubbornness and signs of failure.
Is a Vision a Statement?
Maybe this is where vision falls down. Visions become some words stitched together in which a group of people rally behind them as quickly as they forget the lofty words. Vision statements become an exercise of the over-educated MBAs from some university, some would claim. Vision may need to be more than a statement as it seems to have become just hollow words in many cases.
Is Vision Just Realized in Hindsight?
We read biographies of various leaders and some vision is assigned to them. Was a real vision really present during the time of the hard work, the struggles, and the achievement? Or, was it just a way to wrap the story up in a neatly tied bow for all to remember? Vision is always clear in hindsight, but it may not always be present at the time the good work is being done. It may be just good people doing the best they can with all that they have and then achieving something amazing when the dust clears.
Do Clarity and Philosophy Replace Vision?
Clarity of direction is essential in leadership. Underneath our activities and steps need to be a purpose and a direction. It is about moving from Point A to Point B and knowing why it is important to move forward and why we cannot stay where we are. In the mix, when shifts happen, we need to enhance our awareness and intensify our efforts to understand what the change may have up its sleeve and know when we need to move to Point C instead.
Clarity may be more important than vision. Just as an annual eye exam may improve our vision, we need to examine our direction and determine if a new lens will deliver greater clarity of the path we need to take and engage a team in our steps forward.
Equally important to clarity is our philosophy on how we are going to lead and how we are going to engage others. Our philosophy produces a way of leading and living and serves as our guide forward when times are good, bad, or changing. Having a strong philosophy on how to lead may be more vital than having a vision of where to go.
A mix of clarity and philosophy may produce longer-term results than vision. This may be how Millennial leaders can lead in a better way, learning from the past and replacing the role vision with the right mix of clarity and philosophy.
What are your thoughts on vision? Has vision lost its way?