Most experts advocate creating a vision as a necessary step in any change initiative. But managers have a tough time following this advice. Change vision statements are often too long, too confusing or too generic to motivate action in the direction of the change. It’s tough to condense the vision into a couple of sentences or paragraphs that sing, but it is worthwhile to try. For example, Google’s pithy vision statement has long provided a guiding star for employees to follow: “To make the world’s information universally accessible and useful.” Contrast it with the following vision statement from an actual Fortune 500 firm that shall remain nameless: “Our vision is to maximize shareholder value by enhancing financial performance and providing long-term profitable growth.” Very few employees are going to spring out of bed each morning full of enthusiasm to “maximize shareholder value.”
A clear vision is important for change leaders to think through because it forces you to identify exactly what you are aiming for instead of some vague, fuzzy or rosy picture of the future. It is important for your employees, too. During times of change, they want leaders who have a clear vision and communicate a clear message. As John Kotter famously said: “Without a vision, change can dissolve into a list of confusing, incompatible, time-consuming projects that either go in the wrong direction or nowhere at all.”
So I hope we can agree that a vision is important. Now let’s observe a vision in action and follow Cirque du Soleil through its growth into a large, successful, international arts organization.
>> This paper is one chapter from Dr. Carol A. Beatty’s e-book, The Easy, Hard & Tough Work of Managing Change. The complete e-book is now available on our website at no charge: Download