This is difficult enough, but even once a vision is in place, many leaders fail to execute it over the many years that it may require. They don’t translate the vision into a structured plan that they keep in focus over time. When change efforts require years, however, tracking often gets fuzzy, falling away in the face of rapidly changing business and economic conditions that force constant adaptation to produce day-to-day results.
There are three approaches that we have seen leaders use successfully to deal with these challenges and realize a multi-year vision — either singly or in combination:
- Plan based on the vision. Drive a structured yearly planning process that connects the long-term vision to short-term action.
- Focus on your experimentation. Encourage projects that iterate towards the vision.
- Train your people. Develop training and education that makes the vision come alive over time.
Vision-Based Planning Process
- Dreaming sessions - Team would identify longer-term possibilities for what their businesses could become, and then shape their yearly plans with those opportunities in mind.
- V2MOM — vision, values, methods, obstacles, and measures.
- One-pager for the entire company which, as the acronym suggests.
- First articulates the firm’s overall vision and then spells out his thoughts about the key steps needed to move towards it.
- Direct reports create V2MOM documents for their own groups.
- Combine V2MOMs to achieve full enterprise-wide alignment and commitment to their strategic intent for the next 12 months.
That’s where experimentation comes in — shaping small tests to find out what will work and what will not on the path towards the vision, while also building support for it along the way. But without a focused approach, this experimentation may not lead to the ultimate goal you are trying to reach.
Training and Education
The third approach is to invest in an educational process that gives people in the organization a deep understanding of what the vision actually means and how it could transform their work.