“The Reasons Why Many Change Programmes Fail”
Part 3

Lack of Vision


This month I’m looking at the third reason why significant programmes fail, that is “Lack of Vision”.

As we’ve said on many occasions, change/improvement programmes require effective leadership. The three key elements to that leadership are;

  • Envisioning
  • Enabling
  • Energising

Or as we call them, The 3Es (More about those in another publication!)

As part of leadership having a Vision, to “Envision” is critical.

Many companies and their senior managers write Visions, but unfortunately these are far too complicated with many paragraphs and then they are usually framed and put up in reception areas usually for visitors to see!

Unfortunately managers and leaders in the business don’t use the Vision on a day-to-day basis to continually give direction and align individuals and teams to the appropriate direction.

In its most fundamental form, a Vision should be generated by senior management and should be written with a clear set of purposes.

Its key uses should be;

  • to present on occasions to the workforce
  • to use in meetings and one-to-one sessions to remind people of the direction the business is aiming for
  • used in informal conversations to remind people of the decisions being made and the reasons why
  • Yes, it can be visible, but not instead of above!

The Vision should be able to connect with all of the employees, therefore it should be jargon free, simple to remember and simple to repeat. Maybe not word for word but certainly the intent should be remembered and repeated.

An example produced only last week from a Site Manager of a small production operation;

“xxxxxxxx is a safe place with a loyal workforce, engaged and energised to generate continuous improvement within the business. The plant is profitable with a busy, active environment that produces high volume with the right machines, fully utilised, with the minimum of inefficiency and the highest levels of customer service”.

Simple, right? If it’s too short then it is a slogan and that isn’t enough. ”Be the Best” might be memorable, but it doesn’t give direction, does it?

To write an effective Vision it should involve the most senior managers, but importantly must be facilitated by someone who prevents making it overcomplicated and prevents the managers getting bogged down in wordsmithing and semantics. Take wordsmithing off line, once an agreed draft is produced.

To start a Vision it is best to ask the participants to simply close their eyes and imagine the organisation in five or so years and how they describe that mental picture of what they see in words. The Vision should not contain numbers, technical data, and quantifiable facts. Targets measures, and goals should be “drawn” from the Vision and put into a cascading plan of company objectives. It shouldn’t be the job of the Vision to cover a hierarchy of objectives and goals. That’s too complicated to remember!  The vision shouldn’t need to change for a number of years, if at all!

The key themes from the Vision are then collated and put into three or four themes. Then they become top level objectives for the business once the Vision is complete.

Why is it so important that leaders show the Vision and continually discuss it with people?

An ideal Vision is certainly no more than three or four short paragraphs.

  • Focus the organisation on the key objectives and strategies
  • Demonstrate integrity in all they do         
  • Personally communicate the vision and “what they stand for” – both in words and in actions
  • Recognise the past, understand the present, create the future
  • Create a picture of the future people can accept/generate enthusiasm/achieve personal success (share their personal purpose, vision, values etc.) and keep the vision alive
  • Focus on possibilities – not limitations

The example below shows where an effective Vision fits into the larger process of cascading Objectives, Goals, Strategies and Measures down through the business.

Gummery Summary……

So let’s just summarise the effective use of a Vision.

  • Its short and sweet and memorable
  • It shouldn’t contained facts and figures and numbers….too long!
  • All managers and most employees should be able to repeat it. Not necessarily word for word but in spirit!
  • A Vision is not for just framing, putting on walls and forgetting. It is for day-to-day use. Such as;
    • employee briefings
    • team meetings
    • 1 to ones
    • Informal discussions

If you would like to know more about NewLeaf International and the work we do, please make contact for an informal chat.

Tel: 01905 425209

Email: headoffice@newleafinter.co.uk

Martin Gummery, Managing Director, NewLeaf International Ltd