Where there is no VISION the people perish . Proverbs 29:18
One thing people love to debate is the meaning of a wide range of planning terms. Sometimes the debate can become so convoluted and heated that all the time is spent trying to decide who is the smartest planner – and a plan never gets produced.
If you learn nothing more about leadership than the distinction between Mission and VISION, you will have wisdom to take you far. There is a distinction with a huge difference.
If you want a clear definition of why you exist, that would be a Mission Statement. The mission answers the question,”Why do we exist?” This should also define any boundaries or authority lines making clear what you do NOT exist for as well. It’s good to be clear, but it is kind of a yawner. The motivating factor is what people can see themselves ACHIEVING it.
Vision is powerful, because it clarifies what we will see and feel when we succeed in achieving the mission. How will we know success when we see it or feel it? As people share their future signs of success, they share their hopes and dreams. Even when people share more Signs of Success than they can achieve there is an enthusiasm and energy among them that is palpable. The have to narrow the list down to the most doable, but it still excites them.
At the conclusion of a good Vision Casting process, the people who have been involved are invested emotionally in the potential for success. They become eager to work on the action plans, and their VISION spurs them on. Even when the going gets tough, they grab onto the VISION, recommit, and keep on going!
So who should be engaged in the VISION casting? Some say instantly, “The Executive Team!” If that is true, the only OWNERS invested in it will be the executives. And who is it that has to carry out the work to bring the VISION to life? Oh whoops! That would be the worker bees! If stakeholders and customers are involved, VISION is a huge loyalty builder.
The best VISION processes engage the widest possible cross section of the organization, to get the organization ready with a large team of excited owners working to bring it to life. The more people can invent, the more they invest! And, the more they drive toward success!
If you are trying to motivate people to join you in bringing a big, tough, and/or risky plan to life you need widespread psychic ownership. A good vision cuts through the academic fog and gets to to the heart of the matter. It builds hope and pride in doing something meaningful. Shared VISION IS the engine of all successful projects, ministries, companies, or organization.
Think about Walt Disney for a few moments. His mission (or purpose) was to entertain and delight people for a living. Nothing about that mission would lead you to assume that he was going to build Disneyland. He could have just done a song and dance routine on a street corner.
But Walt Disney had a vision to go with his mission. In his mind’s eye, he could see Main Street, the Castle, Mickey Mouse, Tinkerbell flying across the sky, and cartoon characters wandering the streets entertaining visitors of all ages. Eventually he could hear the sound of children’s laughter and marching bands and feel the excitement that has become the magic of Disneyland.
As he shared this VISION he held, drew pictures of it, built models, and added others’ ideas, he created a huge team of people who were compelled to make the vision come to life – no matter how hard the work and no matter how tough the challenge. That’s the power, the heart and soul of VISION!
VISION is the big picture core of truly inspirational leadership and planning.It is a compelling glimpse of a future reality which causes people to keep working to achieve it. It gives their efforts grounding and meaning. Most of all, shared vision creates shared ownership and a clear focus on the future…in real life terms. While mission establishes the boundaries of purpose for an organization, vision clarifies the exciting future awaiting the organization on the other side of the effort and commitment.
Once the Indicators of Success are clear, it’s time to develop strategies and action plans as rungs of the ladder to get there. But that’s a subject for another time.