From Vision to Reality
A set designer composes images of scene. She sketches an array of details such as how the light focuses an audience’s attention on the principal players in the scene. She selects materials, props, fabrics and various textures that all fit with the time period, location and mood, which enhance the writers’ and director’s intentions, and which will translate seamlessly to the screen after being filmed. She crafts a singular vision and only when it is clear in her mind does she proceed to build the set.
When her team is done constructing the set and when the lighting and other details are just right, she steps back to see the end result. Does it match, fall short, or exceed her original vision? She answers this for herself and makes any needed adjustments. The actors take their places and, if she did everything right, she and all concerned are looking at a brilliantly conceived scene. And that is just one scene!
Creativity in Business
The idea of VISION applies inherently to the arts and anything that requires creativity. But it also applies in full to the world of business. “Business” to some is a dry subject, basically kind of boring. And yes, sometimes it is. But it doesn’t have to be. It can be approached with a limitless supply of creativity. In fact, some of the best and most successful companies around are founded on the concepts of innovation, creativity and vision. And they aren’t all in the arts or entertainment arena either. Prominent and diverse examples are Apple Inc., Tesla Motors, Nike, Shutterstock, Dropbox, and Ben & Jerry’s. Two other fascinating examples are Beats Electronics which was just purchased by Apple for $3 billion and WhatsApp which was recently purchased by Facebook for $19 billion – that’s 19 and 9 zeroes…and a dollar sign.
In order to build a vision for your company, start asking questions. Lots of questions. Some pertinent questions in no particular order: Why do we exist? Where are we going? What markets are we going after? Where do we want to be in one year? Five? Ten? Twenty? How big do we want to get? What product lines do we want to develop? What values were we founded on? What should working here be like? What kind of experience should our customers have? The list can and will go on. The idea is to ask yourselves these types of soul-searching questions and come up with some answers.
Building the Vision
Once you’ve decided on a general trajectory, it’s time to get specific. Your vision and its time frame can be as ambitious as you want it to be, but a good launching point is to list out your current resources and potentialities. Your resources include your staff, spaces, funds, expertise, communication channels, etc. Potentialities include the fact that your warehouse is only half full so it has an immediate potential for 100% growth in that department. Potentialities include capital vs. bootstrapping and what model (or combination) works best in your field. All these facts and figures relate to your vision and strategic plan.
More than One
The next point to consider is that it’s not just a VISION. It’s visions, as in plural, more than one! You should have an overall vision that encompasses your company (or companies). But just as important are the visions for individual spheres of activity, individual departments, and even individual people. You have a sales vision, a marketing vision, an HR vision, a vision for your premises, a vision for customer loyalty, and so on. All these visions should meet together and mesh smoothly one with another. They should, in a word, ALIGN. You should be able to easily break down a larger vision into subsets that span the departments of your company. A good way to see if they align is to work down the list and back up again. Do this as many times as necessary and make any needed adjustments.
Another potent ingredient in formulating a vision is IMAGINATION. This is where you get to tap into the inner (or outer) artist. The best thing about imagination is that it has no restrictions. You can imagine anything you want to. Send your mind into the future and imagine the absolute ideal for your company. You can include your own personal life in the picture because remember this is imagination we’re talking about. Just let your mind run loose. What you may discover is that the “impossible ideal” isn’t so impossible after all. There may be a way to reach that goal, or at least approximate it. This is more than just an exercise. It’s a way to let your mind out of whatever box it may be in.
Using all the factors I mentioned above, asking and answering questions, resources, potentialities, vision breakdown, alignment, and imagination, it is now time to formulate your unique set of visions for your company or sphere of influence. A vision can be a succinct statement of your intentions or it can be a detailed and inspiring description of an imaginative future. How you craft your vision is up to you.
A person with no distinct goals, no vision, is not going to be a happy person. The same goes for a company. Without a destination, you could wind up anywhere, including places you didn’t want to be. When the vision is clear, it is much easier to see the obstacles in the road. The game then becomes the removal and reconciliation of those obstacles so as to get closer and closer toward the goal. I used the word “game” because that is exactly what it is. Any business endeavor, and life itself, can and should be approached as a game. It becomes much easier and much more fun.
You may have noticed that some people with less-than-noble intentions will seek to undermine your vision. Pay no attention to these individuals and cliques. Just move forward like a bulldozer toward your destination. Sometimes such people will put a genuine obstacle in your road which you must overcome. But usually their approach is to resort to various tactics in an attempt to DISTRACT you and make you think that barriers exist which in fact do not. Reacting back is usually not worth the extra effort – effort that should be going into your vision. The counter-tactic – if you want to call it that – is to ignore. The ultimate remedy is to set alight the beacon that is your vision, move ahead and reach your goals!
At your next company meeting, start discussing your vision and get others’ input. Find out what their visions are for their departments and jobs. Write these on the big board and invite the free flow of ideas. Start talking about how these various visions and ideas can coalesce into a new reality. Encourage everyone to use their imaginations. Creativity doesn’t cost anything but could very well be the key to your success!