The Fine Line Between Vision and Wishful Thinking

Vision is a key pillar for great organizations.

Vision inspires, directs and moves people into action. Without it, organizations could become static, complacent and/or disconnected from their respective missions.

Vision also has a tendency to become exaggerated or “over-the-top.” There’s a fine balance between strong vision and wishful thinking. There’s nothing more disheartening than great vision being projected by a leader that never comes to pass. Over time, this kind of behavior will produce a lack of trust and confidence in the organization.

Yes, talk is cheap.

While it’s important to have big vision for an organization, it’s also important for leaders to be mindful of how they communicate and embrace their vision.

Here are some tips for navigating vision and communication:

Emphasize the importance of of paying attention to the small steps that ultimately lead you to your vision.

In other words, make your vision bite-size. Provide tangible action steps that will help your organization accomplish the mission.

Consider your organizational capacity.

What does your vision require of your organization? Do you need to staff up? How will you increase your resources? Who will do what and how?

Remember it’s far better to under-promise and over-deliver than the other way around.

This will build momentum and energy throughout the journey. You don’t have to share the world-changing vision all at once. Break it up so people sense movement.

Have your core team articulate the vision in their own words.

This will provide clarity as to whether or not people are on the same page and how much ownership each leader is embracing. See if you can hear the language of “we” versus “me,” “the organization” or “they.”

Great vision requires over-communication.

It’s one thing for a few leaders to “get it,” but it’s a whole different ballgame for the majority of the organization to buy in.

Integrate vision into the culture and environment.

Can people see the vision? Hear it? Smell it? Taste it? Touch it? Track it? Incorporating more senses into vision implementation is key to making it stick.  

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Charles Lee
Charles is the CEO & Chief Idea-Maker at Ideation, a brand innovation company that specializes in helping businesses & organizations build remarkable brands via innovative business design, organizational change architecture, brand integration, design, web, and marketing services. He is also the author of Good Idea. Now What?: How to Move Ideas to Execution, a practical book designed to help people move ideas to implementation. Charles is regularly invited to speak to leading companies and organizations on topics such as creativity, innovation, idea-making, and branding. Executive leaders from brands including Wells Fargo, Toyota, The White House, Catalyst, William Morris Endeavor, mun2, Council of Urban Professionals, Chick-fil-A, and many others have benefited from having Charles present at their key events.