That thing called vision

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I am intrigued by the notion of having a vision. It seems to be universally admired and often the first (if not only) criterion mentioned when discussing leadership.

What is the difference between a vision and a dream? Vision and fantasy? Vision and a point of view?


But more importantly, what is the trick in moving from NOT having a vision to having one? Like how do you really do it? Can you ‘DO’ vision; i.e. can you acquire it, or is it something like ball sense or the ability to carry a tune; it can be improved but not acquired?


The best I can do is to describe vision as a personal concept of some future outcome.


I would suggest that clarity about the required actions that will deliver that outcome need not be included in such a definition. Translation of the vision into actionable strategies is the domain of management, and could conceivably be independent of the actual vision.


If vision does not include the translation (and subsequent execution) into the actions, then vision is purely a mental construct. Vision must then be born from conscious and /or unconscious mental activity. To put it simply, it is something that springs to mind.


If it were largely the product of the rational mind, then any person would be able to create/ have a vision, and again, I am not certain that any rational view of the future (the everyday garden variety) really constitutes what I understand from the term ‘visionary’.


So, a vision must also have an element of contrariness to it; and it certainly is a view of the future that is different from where the momentum of the status quo would ordinarily take you (or the company).


So a vision should then be defined as an intuitive mental construct of an unusual future.


This new definition would imply that visions somehow come about and are not likely to be something that can be acquired through practice.


As the apostle Paul advises about the speaking in tongues; it is rather useless if there is no one around to translate it – and the same seems true of a vision.


What does all this mean back at the ranch?




  • Encourage mavericks and tolerate the weird – they may become leaders of the future.

  • Embrace intuition – nothing ground-breaking (except tornados) has ever come from extrapolating the ‘usual’ trend.

  • Build some triggers into your strategic plan that mandates change, even if it is only apparently change for the sake of change. (The alternative is atrophy.)

  • Learn to trust your gut.


We need some leadership – go for it!



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