Wednesday, 28 January 2009

Vision - who needs it?

Sam Farrow reckons it's not that important.

Some people reckon it's absolutely essential.

I'm in two minds. Or maybe one and a half.

Sam works in a government department whose job is essentially reactive - to provide great service, accurate information and be accurate. It's not heady stuff, and it's not exactly visionary stuff either.

But can't that department have a vision of how they want to be? Sure they can. Is it essential?

What replaces vision if there's no vision? An awareness of the present, of the needs you exist to fill.

I used to freak out about vision and end up not making any long term plans. Why? Because I looked back over my life and saw sweet serendipity. I am where I am because of a whole range of things that have happened to me, and that I have done.

I intended to become a screenwriter, and ended up being a better business communicator.

I intended to study music at university, and ended up promoting music concerts on a radio network.

I kind of don't trust myself, but I do trust God to make sense of it all. Other people trust "the universe" ... close, but I prefer the personal touch.

So when people encourage me to visualise my vision in excruciating detail, I shrink back. I'm almost entirely sure I'll get it wrong, and I don't want to be so focused on a vision that I miss the really good opportunities.

But I misconstrued the purpose of a vision. A vision's probably not where I'll end up, but it is a focussing tool.

Even if I'm aiming at the wrong thing, the act of aiming makes me see what's at stake. And because it's a big, long term vision, I'm able to make course corrections as necessary. Unless of course I win the lottery and make a stupid big decision simply because I have enough money to do so. Not buying Lotto tickets keeps me out of that danger.


Follow up: Bwagy has a great post about vision.

And while I haven't had any comments here yet, it did get some good comments on Twitter:

johnfrombluff @audaciousgloop The problem with "Vision" is that it's meaningless management-speak most of the time. "We'll be excellent", etc.

ophil @audaciousgloop vision is purpose articulated; its the end as a realist painting to 'show' what success looks like; necessity is contingent

I said
nice definition - yours? What if there is no end, or the end is undefined, or it's actually counterproductive to have an end?

ophil @audaciousgloop guess its mine! no end is not necessarily terminal thats why 'purpose' works better than vision as a guide

ophil @audaciousgloop ends are not necessarily terminal either (despite the word!) ends themselves may be means to larger acheivments
imho i would consider ends counterproductive perhaps 70% of the time (in the strategic sense) as they blind u 2 opportunity
but ends good for measuring progress, motivating and communicating to unfamiliar stakeholders

I said:
little ends. Ends that you can put KPIs on can be good, as long as they get reviewed every 6 months to see if the aims are right
ophil @audaciousgloop hmmm sort of KPI's tend not to be ends but proxy's that can be observed and are related to the ends

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1 comment:

Ben Young said...

Thanks for the mention Simon.

I think vision helps provide a purpose and therefore a direction to take. Which is vitally important moving forward.