The Vison(ing) Thing

The Vison(ing) Thing

Just imagine the transformation in attitude and outcome if instead of writing a vision statement, you did a little visioning.

I’m on a short break this week, but I’ve been party to a whole lot of vision talk lately so here’s one from the archives that might help shine a slightly different light on the whole vision thing. I hope you enjoy it and I’ll see you next week with a question about the intersection of brand and marketing.


What is vision?

It may see like a “no brainer” question, after all we know what vision is – that point on the horizon we’re trying to reach. But a workshop this past week made me think a bit more laterally about the question.

Common understanding has vision as the lynchpin statement for the future of the aspiration for the organisation, one that inspires the troops and gets everyone headed off in the same direction. In practice it is more often than not a committee created collection of tired words strung together into a statement that languishes in the first few pages of the strategic plan.

Let’s face it – vision statements have become a bit tired. More “have to do” than “want to do”, you can almost hear the collective groans whenever the topic comes up. So why is something that is supposed to be inspiring so – well, not?

While I was mulling over the whole vision question thing, along came a great article from Inc perfectly timed to shed new light. It’s worth grabbing a cup of whatever you fancy and taking the five minutes to read it.

To begin they talk about “visioning” as the way you get to vision.

What is a vision? It’s not as mystical or out there as it sounds. A vision, quite simply, is a picture of what success will be at a particular time in the future. It encompasses answers to an array of questions: What does our organization look like? How big is it? What are we famous for? Why does anyone care about what we do? How do people who work here feel about their jobs? How do I, as the founder, feel about the business? What’s my role in it? Complete the visioning process, and you’ll have a clearly articulated end for your organizationsomething that won’t change every time the market or your mood shifts.

The word “visioning” itself changes the tone of what you are doing. Step aside from the fact it isn’t a “proper” word and imagine for a moment that you had a “visioning session” instead of a “vision session.” Aside from conjuring up thoughts of 60’s flower power and all it entailed, I suspect people would come more open to exploration of ideas, with more energy and enthusiasm. There is a collaborative element suggested by visioning – something to be done together as a team – a process that will be as engaging as you’d hope the outcome to be.

One of the other great points in the article was that visions don’t have to just be for the company. You can apply them to any divisions, projects or initiatives within the organisation as well. Nested underneath the “cathedral” of a corporate vision, these supporting visions are a great tool for also moving those things forward.

But for me the kicker was the idea that you can get a good start on a visioning process in
30 minutes! For anyone who has survived one or even two day vision sessions, that is a transformational concept (and yes this from someone who runs them). Again from the article:

I can already see the eyes rolling. A half-hour to write a future for my entire organization? What about gathering the appropriate data, consulting with experts, assessing the big trends and the leading economic indicators? Good questions, but to get going, you don’t need any of that. Why? Though we spend most of our work lives responding to problems and opportunities as the world presents them to us, visioning comes from the inside out. It’s about what you believe, what gets you excited, what you truly want to accomplish.

That last line is worth repeating because it is the heart of vision that so often gets lost along the way… “…visioning comes from the inside out. It’s about what you believe, what gets you excited, what you truly want to accomplish.” YES YES YES indeed.

So why are you still here… you’ve got some visioning things to do!

See you next week.


Michel is an independent brand analyst dedicated to helping organisations make promises they can keep and keep the promises they make – with a strong, resilient organisation as the result. She publishes a blog at You can follow Michel on Twitter @michelhogan


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