Much time, money and resources are expended upon crafting an organization’s Vision (along with Values and Mission). Organizations like Zappos, Lego and Volkswagen that actively bring these statements into their day-to-day operations get their money’s worth. Have you ever worked at a place were the Vision is little more than a spiffy wall graphic in the lobby?
Whether you have been at either place, I’d like to make a case for vision with a small “v”. Big “V” Vision seeks to bottle culture, energy, focus and passion in just a few words. To wit:
Zappos - "To live and deliver WOW”
Lego - "A global force for learning though play.”
Volkswagen - "Sustainability & Community: For the future. For everyone.”
APEX Leader Growth - "Get better faster.”
You can see words like WOW, force, everyone, faster, are statements of bold engaging action. APEX statement serves as a true north to deliver on my promises of bringing the results my clients seek sooner than they would have expected. It also serves as a checkpoint, where I ask, “Will I be able to help this person or organization get better faster?”
One gap in hewing close to an organization’s big “V” vision comes less from not keeping it top of mind than from not setting a vision (with a small “v”) for every long-range, important and complex project or team effort. Note the criteria here. One does not need a vision to define every effort or project. For example, a social media outreach effort may not but one should have a vision for the overarching marketing program of which it is a part.
As Teresa Amabile noted in The Progress Principle, the top two things workplace teams expressed needing to be regularly motivated is to have clearly defined goals and autonomy to complete their assignments. Sadly, most managers had these two qualities at the bottom of their lists. Most thought incentives were the path to motivation.
So, instead of distributing money and gift cards, taking the time to craft a simple, bold explanation (vision with a small “v”) for an upcoming project is a powerful way to provide that clear purpose and a path to increasing engagement, enthusiasm and problem-solving along the way.
Here are some ways how. When initiating a project it could start with Simon Sinek’s “Why?” Why are we doing this? How DOES is connect to our vision and mission?
One could follow an E. Paul Torrance action, “Highlight the Essence”. This suggests communicating what the project is and what it is seeking to accomplish in a brief, simple manner. Not everything is rocket science or brain surgery, yet for even those disciplines, one could manage to craft a brief project statement that gives all team members purpose and direction. The counter to this would be if one cannot easily highlight the essence it might be a sign that the project needs more development before assigning time, people and resources.
Another way to get a small “v” vision is to use the Design Thinking statement: “We are working on _________ in order to __________ because ________.”
If an organization can spend lots of time and money and come up with a bold organization-wide Vision of about ten words, with the expectation of conveying the truth of why it exists, consider leveraging that power into what you are doing as you lead others each day and through each project. Let's meet if vision with a small "v" sounds interesting.