Developing A Strategic Vision For Your Business
Creating a compelling vision of the future is something that leaders of business strive to achieve. Many end up with lengthy statements which are hard to comprehend and even harder to implement. An effective strategic vision will act as a trigger for focused effort that leads to achieving measurable goals that are clearly articulated. A great strategic vision has impact and will be authentic as well as capable of communication with conviction and passion in any medium, orally or in writing.
Vision statements can be powerful, but a vision must cascade as a goal that people can believe in; otherwise, it is just words. Only people can make it real and this requires their understanding of and commitment to the future vision. None of this happens by chance. Engaging people through clear open communication is a critical element in making the envisaged future a reality. Below are two techniques that I use to help my business clients uncover a compelling vision for the future – one at the corporate level and one at a team level.
Corporate Level - What's Our Big Hairy Audacious Goal?
Many highly successful businesses use BHAGs to achieve this. BHAG stands for 'Big Hairy Audacious Goal', an idea promoted in the book, 'Built to Last: Successful Habits of Visionary Companies' by Jim Collins and Jerry Porras. According to Collins and Porras, a BHAG is a long-term goal that changes the very nature of a business' existence.
BHAGs can be extremely useful for turning 'vision' into something everyone can believe in and commit to achieving. BHAGs are meant to shift how you do business, the way the market perceives your firm, and by the clients you currently serve and those you wish to help. Collins and Porras describe BHAGs on a corporate level as nearly impossible to achieve without consistently working outside of a comfort zone and displaying organisational commitment, confidence and single-minded focus on implementation.
BHAGs are more prominent, bolder and stronger than regular long- and short-term goals. They typically take a 10- year commitment, but they are exciting, tangible, and something everyone 'gets' without any further explanation. Many highly successful businesses have used BHAGs to envisage their 'One Future' – and then plan for it.
Creating Your BHAG
This exercise is designed to generate a couple of BHAGs for the business to achieve, starting with defining a compelling future. Then you can move onto developing a long-term vision for the future of your business. You could consider doing this exercise with the leadership team and others who are responsible for the strategic direction of the company.
I run a BHAG workshop to help the leadership team depict the future using the following question: "What will the company look like in 10 years?" Ahead of time, I set each participant the same short exercise to stimulate and help them think beyond the day job. Strategic thinking is an art as well as a process and my role to guide and coach in both. The results are shared on the day and this creates a great sense of team-spirit and buy-in.
I assist participants in these workshops in going more in-depth to get a real look and feel for the outcome. I use a variety of techniques, including strengths profiling for the team, facilitating discussion with a set of searching questions and several interactive exercises. Challenging and dynamic, it can be a fantastic way of tapping into creativity and can bring real breakthroughs – if people allow a free flow of ideas without anyone being critical or judgmental. As a trained facilitator, I know how to guide input from powerful people and ensure conflicting ideas are surfaced and discussed. Disagreement doesn’t need to be disagreeable! The idea is to capture the full diversity of thinking and leverage the range of strengths within the team to benefit the whole.
Once completed, we then regroup to find patterns and key themes. These can be reorganised to extract the most potent to work up into the 'One Future' or invented vision for the firm of tomorrow. It is essential to pick the elements that that most convergent to create the 'One Future'. I facilitate these sessions by encouraging people to test the solidity and completeness of the BHAG and how this 'One Future' communicates to others. Questions to challenge the BHAG contenders are:
• Is it purposeful?
• Is it action oriented?
• Is it innovative?
• Is it compelling?
• Is it exciting?
• Is it believable?
Once agreed, the BHAG needs to be broken down into specific and measurable mini goals to move towards achieving it. Naturally, this can't be done all in one day and will require further work. I offer follow up support.
Notable Examples of BHAGs are:
Amazon: Every book, ever printed, in any language, all available in less than 60 seconds.
Disney: Be the best company in the world for all fields of family entertainment.
Google: Organise the world's information and make it universally accessible and useful.
Team Level – What's Our Role and Purpose?
I run this as a two-hour interactive workshop which will enable the functional management team to examine how things are going, review what might do better and discuss ideas for how to achieve this. The aim is to generate a shared vision which is future-focused that the entire team can begin work.
The workshop is facilitated by me using systemic team coaching techniques and I am certified to use this process. It is highly interactive and empowers team members to face up to issues constructively by focusing on what can be done – not what can't be done. At the end of the session, sweep up the ideas to evaluate and get stuck into the action planning. An essential step in building team identity, this shifts the mindset from rumination to constructive action.
The workshop involves all the team members. The shared experience will create a common language and clear direction, which will help build resilience. Team workshops run by me are outcomes orientated with practical actions for individuals to take away. I provide templates and handouts for people to take away and offer follow up one-on-one coaching to support the transition from intention to implementation.
About Beverly Landais
Beverly is a professional certified coach (PCC). Beverly comes to coaching from a senior business background, including board level. Her purpose is simple. She works with people to help them be at their resourceful best. She can help you do the things that promote wellbeing, bring personal as well as professional satisfaction and make you happy.