Bringing Vision and Strategy to Life
In his second article based upon his chapters in our book "Change Wisdom", Malcolm Follos describes how to make vision and strategy more engaging, making them real and important for all stakeholders.
Far too many vision statements and accompanying strategy presentations put people to sleep.
Leaders find them difficult to present and participants find them even more difficult to listen to. They are full of corporate and management speak that fails to engage the heart as well as the head of the people they are developed by and for.
Enough of this nonsense. This annual ritual has to stop.
What people want to hear is their leaders describing the future in a way that gives them the confidence that the future will be better than today and will enable them to contribute, and to some extent shape their own destiny. Leaders want this too, so all that is missing is the will to break a well embedded corporate ritual and a new strategy process designed to engage the heart as well as the head. This is what we have been working on over the last couple of years and what we can offer to organisations wanting to breathe new life into their strategy process.
Our process encourages leaders to ‘dream the impossible dream’. We help leaders let their imagination soar. We encourage them to draw their vision as a composite picture, one that is colourful, desirable and shows a future destination worth getting out of bed each day for. When this is formed then, and only then, do we introduce the rational reality on which all future strategies have to be based if they are to succeed. Once the destination is known amazingly the starting point becomes a lot clearer too. Current challenges and issues have the strategic perspective necessary to help leaders extend their thinking horizon and begin to focus on the journey that lies ahead.
Put simply a vision is a destination worth arriving at. One that transcends current reality and is beyond the current issues horizon. A great vision should be uplifting and reflective of the primary purpose of the organisation. “To make sustainable living common place” says Unilever; “To refresh the world” says Coca-Cola and “To become the most creative organisation in the world” says the BBC “To save and improve lives“ says NHS Blood & Transplant. All of these examples are designed to remind everyone that there is something worth doing and the destination is worth all their effort.
A strategy is simply answering the question – how are we going to get there and what do we need to do if we are to succeed along the way? I find this is best developed as a story. A story that can be drawn onto a large journey storyboard, clearly showing the journey into the future; highlighting the key achievements along the way; the headwinds you will have to face; the tailwinds that will blow you along; all the opportunities; potential distractions; and risks that will give the story its flavour and substance. I find leaders enjoy creating and then telling these stories and as a result they appear enthusiastic and credible, two leadership attributes that all too often get lost in a corporate Power Point presentation. Also, managers listening find the story easy to remember and re-tell, as they cascade the message into their areas and departments.
Our process encourages everyone listening to participate with comments, builds and suggestions on what this story means for them in their day-to-day activity, thereby creating the elusive ‘golden thread’ linking day-to-day activity to strategic intent.
Malcolm Follos is a management consultant and strategist. He is also a Springer Spaniel owning Dance Teacher.
This subject is elaborated in his chapter in the #1 bestselling book from The Change Maker Group "Change Wisdom", available here.