Business Visions: The Essential Guide for Strategic Decision Making
“Vision without action is merely a dream. Action without vision just passes the time. Vision with action can change the world.”- Joel A. Barker
Decision-making can be hard nowadays. The context can change rapidly in a complex environment, making it fundamentally more challenging for companies to make important strategic decisions. Without a vision and the use of appropriate strategies, businesses may pursue measures that provide short-term benefits without the possibility of achieving long-term success.
Visions are the basis for the so-called backcasting approach. A planning methodology which builds on a goal-oriented planning process. Backcasting from specific scenarios can be helpful by asking decision makers to envision a future image of success for the company. If that image is clear, one can go back to the current reality to subsequently find the best strategic way to take steps moving towards the shared vision. Therefore, using scenarios can make companies more flexible and innovative by preparing them for possible eventualities. This planning technique is frequently used by managers to articulate their mental models about the future in order to make better decisions.
To ensure that the company vision forms an adequate basis for making important decisions, one can check against several validation criteria:
· Plausibility: the selected scenarios have to be capable of happening;
· Consistency: the combination of logics in a scenario has to ensure that there is no built-in internal inconsistency and contradiction;
· Utility/relevance: each scenario should contribute specific insights into the future that help to make the decision and must be relevant to the company’s concern;
· Challenge/novelty: they should challenge the organization’s conventional wisdom about the future and must produce a new and original perspective on the issues; and
· Differentiation: they should be structurally different and not simple variations on the same theme.
Vision Team Assemble
On top of the previously shown validation criteria, a desired vison needs to focus on creating an inspiring and motivating common image of success for the whole company. Therefore, a project team needs to be assigned to initiate the process. ideally consisting of employees from different if not all departments to have a broad base of knowledge and expertise with different perspectives. Employees working together with different perspectives often leads to a synergetic result in which the cooperation gets amplified. The project team needs to be familiar with the current situation as well as possible treats and opportunities the company may faces, in order to make the most expedient decisions. Additionally, an external consultant, that is familiar with the specific market that the company resides in, should be suggested to ensure that the narrow view of internal experts is broadened
Prepare a Workshop
After the project team is assembled and familiarized with the given topic, it is time to structure and organize a workshop to lay the foundation for the discovery of the company’s vision. Providing creative space and asking the right questions to engage the participants is the main responsibility of the facilitators to create a vision that is appropriate and applicable. After a successful workshop, a common vision should emerge with which the company can relate to and feels comfortable with carrying out to the world. It provides guidance about what should be preserved in the core of the company and what should be open for change. This created vision consists of the segments core ideology and envisioned future.
Core Values are guiding timeless principles that represent what the company stands for and functions as the company’s identity. The Core Values should be intrinsic and based on the personal characteristics of the board. Within the company all employees should be able to feel that the core values of the company are carried out. These Values represent the “how” of the company, both what it represents today, and what its employees would like it to represent in the future. The following sample questions could be answered to help retrieve the core values:
· How does the company interact with its employees, suppliers, and other stakeholders?
· What are the key ways in which it operates that are special and unchanging?
· What are the company’s management, leadership, and communication styles?
· What drives our economic engine?
The Core Purpose is the company’s reason for being and should capture the soul of the company by discovering why it exists. If the Core Purpose is clear, practitioners are able to think about solutions that are less focussed on how the company is operating today. If the company understands what it provides to society, it can try to come up with new ideas to provide the same product or service. However, the purpose is not equal to the company’s goals. As goals should be achievable, the purpose of the company can never be fully reached. Actions that could lead the company closer to their purpose can be taken and should function as a constant stimulation. To retrieve the core purpose, it can be helpful to ask the following questions:
· Who would miss the organization if it suddenly disappeared?
· What products and services does it provide to society?
· What does the company aim to do?
· What are we deeply passionate about?
This enables a company to think about what a company is adding to society apart from making a profit and providing jobs internally. To dig deeper into each of the emerging answerers from the previously presented questions one should make use of the 5-Why method. The primary goal of the technique is to determine the root cause of a problem or a given statement by repeating the question “Why?”. Each answer forms the basis of the next question and gives the team a better understanding to clearer design the core purpose.
After the core has been identified, it is time to lay out general goals that the company wants to achieve in the next 10-30 years. By setting challenging goals for the future, the company can motivate itself to strive for the best results, in order to realize the desired outcome of the company. These Stretch Goals should be hard to reach and will only have success if the team acts accordingly in pursuing to be successful. The Stretch Goals should be formulated in such a way that they are attainable and precise enough for a company to get a genuine idea how to reach them.
Vivid Description & Statement
Now that the goals have been set, the company should create a Vivid Description, of how it will look like if the company will reach its goals, and a Vision Statement to capture the most important parts of all segments mentioned above. The Vivid Description should be relatable for employees and it should explain what the company does. The Vision Statement consists of a compelling sentence to summarize what the company tries to carry out and what it stands for. Creating these segments in the process to envision the future will help picturing an image of what success could look like. These sample questions will support to create a Vivid Description and Vision Statement:
· Imagine yourself in 20 years. What would you love to see, what should the company look like, what should it feel like to customers what should it have achieved?
· Imagine you are reading an article about your organization in 2040, what does it say?
· What year will it be when your children are your age, and if you could create a better world for them, what would it look like then?
· What can we be best at in the world?
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“Vision is a destination – a fixed point to which we focus all effort.
Strategy is a route – an adaptable path to get us where we want to go.” – Simon Sinek