The Three Components of Vision Casting
Developing a vision for your business, organization or even your personal career can often be a wrenching and difficult process. The challenge gets far more difficult when more voices are involved. Many of you have participated in long, drawn-out meetings where the future is discussed ad nauseam, yet you never arrive at anything solid or even worthwhile.
There are many possible problems that may be at the root of these bad vision sessions, but I believe any good vision casting process should have three general components structured to it.
In order to understand where you are going, it is essential to know where you have been. This means taking stock of where you came from and how you got to where you are now. This understanding can come in many forms, but who you are (or have been) must be universally clear to all participants. Once this information is established, you can move forward in an authentic manner— meaning that any future vision can be developed with congruence to the past.
It might be obvious to list vision as a key component of vision casting, but too often teams or leaders move forward in planning without a cogent or concrete vision in place. This is usually because developing such vision is arduous and difficult, as previously discussed. There is no singular formula for developing vision, but it must be built by synthesizing all relevant voices and available wisdom, with authenticity, unique positioning, mission and values as unique ingredients and with key leadership in place to embrace and drive it forward. Often times, vision becomes boiled down into a neat and tidy vision statement that is so vague it becomes useless. I always recommend developing a robust narrative that describes key outcomes or visualizes what will have happened. This vision narrative will be powerful enough to enable the next component.
One might call this phase strategy, but I prefer planning as it has less baggage. A Gap Analysis is often a very effective method to kick off the planning phase. It is simply looking at the difference between where you are currently and where you want to go. This will allow you to set effective goals which align to the vision narrative. These goals should be ordered by priority (urgency + importance) across core dimensions of your business (product, sales, marketing, etc), driving your team's plans.
Without working through these three components, vision casting is a starry-eyed pipe-dream or worse, a soul-sucking, time-wasting, productivity killer. Do yourself a favor— next time someone suggests a vision session, consider these three ideas and perhaps invest in a experienced facilitator who can extract the wisdom from your team and help to develop a clear and powerful vision.