In the opening chapter of his book, “Double Double,” author and mentor Cameron Herold writes, “Many people create goals for the future but don’t really have a vision of what their company will look like at that point.” Having goals is important, but having a clear vision of how to reach those goals often determines a company’s success, or mere survival.
Whether you have a general idea for what you want your company’s vision to be or you’re still pondering the possibilities, here are five steps for bringing it to life in your organization.
- Come up with a vision that matters to you and to others. A vision that’s uninspiring or devoid of meaning is unlikely to compel others to want to work toward it. If you want people on your team who are motivated and enthusiastic about their work, give them a reason to be. This is especially true if you want to attract millennials. A recent Gallup report, “How Millennials Want to Work and Live,” noted that millennials aren’t interested in just working for a paycheck; they want their work to have meaning. So, if you want to attract and retain millennial workers, then it’s imperative to have a value-driven vision that they can find purpose in.
- Make your vision vivid. It’s one thing to have a strong, purpose-driven vision in your head. It’s another to clearly convey that vision to others so it gets into their heart. Speaking from experience, this is a real challenge for many founders and leaders of companies, which is why creating a Vivid Vision document can be so valuable. A Vivid Vision (brainchild of Cameron Herald, mentioned at the beginning of this article) is a detailed document describing what you see your company looking like and doing at a specific time in the future, typically three years out. For example, we finalized our Vivid Vision for 2020 in the fall of 2016. It’s not meant to be a document describing how you’re going to realize your vision; it’s about describing what you see for your company over the next three years. You can make this as engaging, interesting and captivating as you want. Our Vivid Vision document includes a lot of fun pictures, images and quotes, all of which helps paint a picture for our team members of how our company will look in the future.
- Anchor your Vivid Vision with clear long-term goals and core values. In addition to clarifying your vision, it’s also important to establish specific goals and metrics that will help your organization realize your vision as well what your company’s core values are. These two components will help bring your Vivid Vision to life, especially in terms of output and how decisions are made along the way.To back up our Vivid Vision, we’ve established defined sales, geographical expansion and even awards goals, which are all laid out over one, two and three-year timelines. These goals are all anchored by our core values of “own it,” “embrace relationships” and “excel and improve.”
- Share your vision and use it in your hiring process. When you finish your Vivid Vision, it’s essential to share it with your employees. The people who want to work in alignment with the core values and goals that you’ve set will make themselves known. It’s through these people that you’ll start to see your vision become a reality. Conversely, you also may find that there are some existing employees who aren’t on board with your vision for one reason or another. Typically, these people self-select themselves out and move on to other positions or opportunities that better align with their personal and professional goals and values. It’s also important to be proactive about hiring people who embrace your vision and reflect your company’s core values. For example, in our hiring process, before we interview most candidates, we send them sections of our Vivid Vision. To get an interview with us, they must respond to aspects of it, what they like about it, etc. Then, once someone is hired, we do Core Value training and go over our Vivid Vision with them so they understand where our company is headed and what we’re looking to accomplish.
- Regularly repeat your vision. There’s an old marketing maxim that people must be exposed to something at least seven times before it sinks in, consciously and unconsciously. This same concept applies to your vision. It’s not enough to just share it with your organization once and then tuck it away, expecting them to remember it and work in accordance to it. In order for your vision to become engrained in your company’s culture and performance, you must keep repeating it and reinforcing it steadily over time. At Accelerated Partners, we do this in many ways, through awards, quarterly planning, reviews and goal setting, and our financial, sales and goal reviews on our company-wide calls. The point is to operationalize your Vivid Vision as opposed to just hanging it on a wall somewhere.
Transforming your vision into reality is a multi-step process. It takes time, commitment, effort and focus. However, if it’s purpose-driven and meaningful to you and to others, then you won’t be attempting to accomplish it alone. When employees are connected with your vision both at the head and the heart, they are more likely to contribute new, innovative ideas, work more collaboratively and keep going, even when the going gets tough. And that’s a definition of success that any entrepreneur or leader should get behind.