A company cannot and will never reach its fullest potential without ownership and its leaders having a clear understanding of not only where the business is now but also where it is going.
If there is no vision, how can a company be steered in the right direction?
I find the most frustrated people I work with are the ones who don’t have a vision for themselves or the business and therefore don’t realise what’s possible. They see today as something to survive, and they’ll come back for more tomorrow.
They’re too busy fighting today’s fires to make a plan to prevent fires.
These are the business owners who are putting 70 hours in per week, and believe if they don’t keep breaking their backs, they’re never going to see a profit.
This is what I call the hope syndrome — they work very hard in the hopes of making a profit.
If you’ve needed to work 70 hours per week for any extended length of time and there’s not due profit for the effort and stress, then you’re doing something wrong, or it may be as simple as there is something you don’t know.
These are the people who tell me they don’t have time to work on a vision because they’re too busy. They are stuck in the now.
It’s okay to admit if you don’t have the visioning skill. Yes, there are a lot of successful entrepreneurs who seem to be born with it, but even they have had to learn how to fine tune things.
Vision is a learned skill — it is just a matter of being shown how.
EXERCISE: Getting To The Vision
The first thing you have to do is figure out where you want to go with the future of your business.
A lot of people give very broad generalisations, such as “I want to make a lot of money,” but they don’t really know what that looks like and immediately abandon figuring out how.
When they don’t want to set a plan for their vision, they often don’t bother to have a vision in the first place.
In this case, you almost have to think like a child. A five-year-old doesn’t worry about training, logistics, expenses, etc. They just want to visit the moon one day or be a police officer or rescue polar bears.
Ask a five-year-old to draw you a picture of what they want to do when they grow up and you’ll see someone with vision.
When I sit down with owners or executives, one of the first things I do is introduce a “visioning tool.” I call it this because saying “I’ll need you to act like you’re five years old” doesn’t sound as professional.
I instruct them to forget words and draw a picture of what they hope the future looks like for them and their business.
It may seem silly at first, but once they accept the giant piece of butcher’s paper on the conference room table and the pens and markers in front of them, they find themselves lost in “what could be,” much like a five-year-old.
What kind of picture would you draw?
This exercise is the first step in developing a vision and showing owners how they can be creating visions for themselves and their business.
Once the picture is drawn, we look at the characteristics of the picture…what does it mean? If somebody draws themselves on the top of a mountain, it could mean that they see themselves as being on top of a successful business. It could also mean they have evolved to a place where they can take time off to go hiking.
Understanding what the picture means is key to developing a plan.
One of the takeaways from this exercise is always that things will need to change to reach that vision. People don’t like change, but once they have a vision, it becomes much easier.
They don’t view it necessarily as “change in the now” anymore. They view it as “change to serve a larger stationary vision” and this can help dramatically in creating a growth mindset.