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Monday 8 April 2013

Finding Your Vision? Why Is It So Difficult?

I was doing some research for a book I am writing, part of which is about the importance of having a vision. What has become clear, especially in the UK, is how little understanding there is about this topic. This was brought more into focus whilst watching the documentary series "The Men Who Built America", what made them stand out was not only the strength of their Vision but the fact that they had one at all.

My experience in the UK with owner businessmen, is that it is quite challenging getting them to understand how important having a vision is to the long term prosperity of their business. When I give training courses about leadership of high growth businesses, the section on Vision is one of the most challenging. This is because I can count on the fingers of one hand how many business owners actually have thought out what their vision is, whilst the majority just dismiss it as some sort of consultant "mumbo jumbo".  They simply don't get it.

English: DOE Departemental Enterprise Vision
English: DOE Departemental Enterprise Vision (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
I wonder if it’s something about the British and their cynicism that prevents them from grasping the value of understanding the purpose of their business. I don't mean from a personal perspective ie to make money, retire in 5 years, those statements are just measurements. I mean having a real business Vision:  something that describes what it is about the way you do what you do, that will have customers flocking to buy your product or service. To paraphrase a comment about George Bush senior and his struggles with the vision thing "If you don't know where you want to go why would you expect others to put themselves out to help you get there?"

That’s essentially the simple great benefit of having a vision. It is something that you can use to bind your employees and your customers to you as they will see, understand and share your Vision and as a result will want to continue to be your customers or employees, to help you get there.

Most of us haven’t found that vision or purpose and so it is much easier to find a substitute and embrace someone else’s, rather than to try to uncover your own. By finding your vision you become one of the few and really separate yourself from your competition. Once found, it immediately makes decisions easier by simply asking does doing this move me towards my vision? You will instantly discard those actions to which the answer is “No”, allowing you to concentrate on those things that will. This immediately makes your business more effective, as you have a clear simple process on which to test effort and separate yourself from those who don’t know where they are going, so, do everything “just in case”

Let’s be honest, uncovering your vision is difficult and getting it down to a succinct phrase takes a lot of effort. Do you really think that the famous Disney vision "to make people happy" came together in a blinding flash? It was developed and honed over time to something that encapsulated the Vision in a simple sound bite. 

Just because we don't generally think at this level or in these terms doesn't mean we can’t if we don't put our minds to it. The first stage is to just put something down and work on it over time until you think it reflects your purpose.

Here are some examples of small business visions, but not small, business visions. I asked the members of the LinkedIn group that I run “managing high growth” if they had a vision and if so what it was. These were the results. I think these examples are more relevant than those famous Visions of the large corporates.

In case you’re asking mine is "To enable high growth businesses to grow faster for longer and with less stress" Others are “To help clients increase sales and reduce time and cost” and “To create an environment where people feel valued”

So uncover your vision and get yourself clarity in your business, separate yourself from your competition and start being more successful. If you think you'd like some more help in extracting your vision contact me here

Exigent Consulting provides specialist services for Managing High GrowthBusiness Turnaround, and Mentoring to the Small and Medium Business. We help business owners improve the profit performance of their business.