One of the great dreamers of the 20th century was Walt Disney. Any person who could create the first sound cartoon, first all-color cartoon, and first animated feature-length motion picture is definitely someone with vision.
In my opinion, Disney's greatest masterpieces of vision were Disneyland and Disney World. And the spark for that vision came from an unexpected place. As Larry Taylor wrote in Be an Orange, "Back when Walt's daughters were young, he took them too an amusement park in the LA area on Saturday mornings. His girls loved it and he did too. Walt was particularly captivated by the carousel.
As he approached it, he saw a blur of bright images racing around to the tune of energetic calliope music. But when he got closer and the carousel stopped, he could see that his eye has been fooled. He observed shabby horses with cracked and chipped paint. And he noticed that only the horses on the outside row moved up and down. The others stood lifeless, bolted to the floor.
Disney's disappointment inspired him with a grand vision. In his mind's eye he could see an amusement park where the illusion didn't evaporate, where children and adults could enjoy a carnival atmosphere with out the seedy side that accompanies some circuses and traveling carnivals. His dream became Disneyland. Walt's vision could be summed up as, 'No chipped paint. All the horses jump.'"
Look Before You Lead
Vision is everything for the leader. It is utterly indispensable. Why? Because vision leads the leader. It paints the target. It sparks and fuels the fire within and draws him or her forward. It is also the firelighter for others who follow the leader. Show me a leader without vision and I'll show someone who isn't going anywhere exciting.
Crafting Your Vision
When creating a vision, a leader must have an understanding or where the organization is and where it needs to go. The vision of the business gives it energy. It motivates employees in the direction of the corporate strategy. It is the image that a business must have of its goals before it sets out to reach them. It describes the aspirations for the future, without specifying the means that will be used to achieve the desired outcomes.
A vision can be looked upon as the beginning of the organization's story. It creates purpose for the team by focusing them on what they need to work together on to achieve success. It includes the motivation and plan to encourage improvement and achievement.
The success of your vision is determined by how well it fulfills five basic requirements:
1) Provides future direction
2) Expresses a customer benefit
3) Is realistic
4) Is motivating
5) Must be fully communicated, and consistently followed and measured
A vision should be a short, succinct, and inspiring statement of what the organization intends to become and achieve at some point in the future. The intentions listed in the vision should remain broad, all-inclusive and forward-thinking. While there are no specific formulas for creating a vision, there are principles and guidelines for building one. To begin the development of your vision, follow this simple three-step process:
1) Think of all the things that might be possible for your store in a given time frame.
2) Write down as many ideas as you can.
3) Edit the list to what you are willing to commit to.
By going through this brainstorming exercises, your mind becomes open to areas of new possibilities. This is essential to developing a vision because, after all, a vision is putting into words the goals and desires of the future which is yet unforeseen state of existence.
One of my favorite stores is Trader Joe's. It has been for over thirty years. A Harvard Business Review article described Trader Joe's vision as, "Transforming shopping from a chore into a culinary treasure hunt." That vivid and imaginative sentence beautifully captures my first and most recent shopping experiences at Trader Joe's.
The more powerful and vivid your vision, the more opportunities occur to create strategies necessary to your business success. Building a vision is actually only one part of the larger activity--developing the governing ideas for the enterprise, its vision, mission and business plan. It is an essential starting point of building a winning team. A vision not consistent with values that people live on daily basis will not only fail to inspire enthusiasm, it will generate blatant cynicism
Communicating Your Vision
Once developed the vision must be supported and communicated to all team members. Surprisingly, many leaders develop a vision, which they believe to be the best vision for their organization, but find out that their employees are unaware of it. This result is not necessarily due to how the vision was created, but, instead, how it was communicated and understood by members of the team.
In order to effectively communicate your vision for your store, you must be able to explain the what, how, why, and when. By keeping your team informed, you build trust which in turn empowers your people. Visions that are truly shared take time to emerge. They grow as a by-product of interactions and require ongoing conversation.
There are four steps needed to communicate a vision:
1) Share you vision and how it will benefit the organization as a whole.
2) Show how the achievement of the vision will benefit each team member.
3) Share your plan of action as a leader including what each team member can expect from you.
4) Share your expectations.
Supporting Your Vision
To energize team members to work towards and share the vision requires more than a sign on the wall or statement on a business card. It is more than just telling your team what you do (and they) need to do too. Nothing happens by magic. As their leader, you need to live the vision and values, be seen living them, and constantly communicating them to your team.
Your team must understand the vision--the reasoning of the vision. They must own the vision. Owning the vision is the natural process that evolves from genuine for a vision. Only can the team realize the vision, and more importantly experience the reward of seeing the vision become a reality.
Many visions never take root and spread--despite having merit. Visions can only spread through reinforcement of increased clarity, enthusiasm, communication, and commitment. As people talk, the vision grows clearer. As it becomes clearer, enthusiasm builds.
Enthusiasm spreads faster by early successes in pursuing the vision. Success of the vision causes people to talk about it, which in turns brings better clarity to the vision thus generating more enthusiasm. And the cycle repeats itself again.
Vision is long term. People need a "guiding light" to navigate and make daily decisions. Visions need to challenge people, evoke a feeling that draws people towards wanting to be part of something very special.
If you lack vision look inside yourself. Draw on your natural gifts and desires. Look to your calling if you have one. And if you still don't sense a vision of your own, then consider hooking up with a leader whose vision resonates with you. Become their "partner." That's what Walt Disney's brother, Roy did. He was a good businessman and leader who could make things happen. But Walt provided the vision. Together they made an incredible team.
The story goes at the opening dedication of Walt Disney World, one of the speakers shared , "It's a shame that Walt passed on before he could see his dream come true." Mrs. Disney arose and said," If Walt hadn't seen it first, the rest of us wouldn't be seeing it now."
Keeper: "You can only seize what you can see."
All the success!
Peter Mclees, LMFT
P. S. Smart Development Inc. has an exceptional track record helping restaurants, stores, branches, distribution centers, food production facilities, and other businesses create a strong culture, leadership bench strength and the teamwork necessary for growth. Having worked with several companies throughout their growth cycle, we have valuable insights and strategies that would help any late stage startup, small or medium sized company achieve sustained growth and prosperity.