Some companies will devote a portion of an executive off-site to alignment with a corporate vision. I recall attending a leadership retreat during my corporate days where over 100 of the company’s top executives were divided into groups of eight or ten to try and restate the company vision statement as a new formula. Near the end of an hour devoted to this effort, designated group leaders would present their vision statement to the full audience of attendees. The COO and CEO would comment or nod affirmation of elements they liked. Of the dozen or so statements presented, none would endure as “the one” to guide the company forward. 100 hours of executive time gone in a flash.
Fast forward to my direct work with company leadership teams. While aligning a corporation’s vision to reasonable objectives, I’ve learned it matters a lot who is at the table and what role the most senior person plays in the exercise. Development of a vision statement requires two essential conditions and one overarching parameter.
The essential conditions
1. The right people need to be at the table
2. The right permissions need to be in place to allow collaboration
Too many cooks can spoil the soup when working on strategic initiatives. I don’t subscribe to having every constituency in a company represented among the participants in this type of strategic effort. There is a time and place to include the rest of the workforce, but save that energy for the “how” issues. Strategic vision is about “why” the company does something.My corporate experience of a large group of executives flailing with a new vision statement proved to be a colossal waste of precious executive time that would have been better spent at the mock “casino night” bonding experience. Click To Tweet
The overarching parameter
What do we aspire to be in the next two years?
“But strategic vision is about the long term,” you say. Well, yes, it is, and I would agree that you don’t want to be changing your vision too much every two years. However, if you look back just two years, we were deep in the throes of the pandemic. Uncertainty was everywhere as we struggled to identify a collective response among governments, industries, schools, and our personal lives.
Flash forward to 2022, and the onset of a recession is now undeniable. Supply chain issues continue to remain unsettled, and we are clearly on to the next challenge. We are in for a period of economic disruption that many did not anticipate. Costs are increasing across the board in overhead, recruiting and retention, and our personal lives. Revisiting the vision makes sense in terms of what is now possible vs. what is no longer possible.
Having a strategic vision much beyond 2-3 years wastes leadership energy and draws our focus toward things that will likely not be within our control. Focusing too much effort too far out on the horizon will prevent your company from adapting to conditions in the moment. Giving strategic vision “just a little more time to take hold” contributes to the calcification of ideas and, ultimately, a loss of focus on what you can actually control.
Don’t believe me? Look at the makeup of the Dow Jones Industrial Average, 30 of the largest companies in the United States reflecting a measure of the economy.
What do these companies all have in common?
- Exxon Mobil
- General Electric
They are all former members of the Dow Jones Industrial Average. Why former? They failed to adapt and clung to a strategy and model for too long. Do you think because those companies are so big, that the learning point doesn’t apply to you and your company? If so, check your eyeglass prescription (the other kind of vision) and look again.
Really, How’s Your Vision?
Learn more about the Sentient Strategy® so you can move strategically in 12-18 months, as you focus on things that matter and that you have some control over.