“To the person who does not know where he wants to go, there is no favorable wind.” Though 2000 years have passed since the Roman philosopher Seneca the Younger wrote those words, they’re still true today for people and organizations. Whether you're making operational improvements or organizational restructuring plans, none of those efforts will matter if you don't have a compelling, clear vision of where your business is going.
A vision does not spell out details like a business plan but there are things that a vision should have in order to guide your internal decisions and strengthen your organization.
1. A compelling vision should encompass longer-term dreams but should be achieveable in the nearer term. Goals outlined in a vision plan won’t be accomplished in one year – they are more complicated and ambitious than that. But creating a clear vision for how your business can help enhance the community within 3-5 or 5-10 years can provide clarity, context and momentum to your internal decisions now. Your vision is a dream that, with focus and hard work, is achievable within a few years.
2. It should be the yardstick against which all plans are built and evaluated. Your vision should be able to guide internal work like operational improvements, restructuring of your organizational chart and creating a culture of accountability. Everyone has to know where you are headed in order to make good strategic decisions. For example, if your vision is to serve ten new neighborhoods with deliciously prepared fresh foods, your annual plans must contain strategies to build new capacity in your prepared foods management and program development. If your vision is to educate school kids about nutrition you need to consider how to plan for the recruitment and development of qualified staff educators. A vision dictates this planning.
3. A vision is powerful and transformational only when it is inspiring. You must describe the impact you want to have in the community or in the world. It should motivate your shoppers and staff to get behind these goals with the knowledge that they are somehow, in some small way, helping to enrich the world.
So, before you sketch out any operational improvement plan, consider your vision. Is it inspiring? Does everyone working in your organization know what it is and is able to see the business steadily working toward it? Do the staff and managers think innovatively and strategically about how to reach your vision?
When everyone is aligned on where you are going, those big restructuring plans become more self-evident, less emotional and help people to keep focused on the most important things. When everyone can see the same inspiring future, then everyone can help harness the favorable winds to deliver you safely to the shores of the future you want.