Pursue What Matters
Episode 88: Vision Planning: Where Are You Going & Why Does It Matter?
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Dr. Melissa Smith 0:00
Where are you going? And why does it matter? Do you have a plan for your life? Do you have a plan for your team? Do you have a plan for your organization? Well, if you don’t, you better figure it out. I can help.
Dr. Melissa Smith 0:15
Hi, I’m Dr. Melissa Smith, welcome to the Pursue What Matters Podcast, where we focus on what it takes to thrive in love and work. Today, we are going to be talking about having a vision for your life, having a vision for your team and having a vision for your organization. Because of course, it really matters. And it can make all the difference between being successful and failing, and living to purpose or just getting by. And this is really one of the distinguishing factors that we are seeing between organizations who thrive and organizations who fail, do they have a strong organizational vision? and organizational vision, of course, sets the foundation for a strong culture. And so you know, today we are going to be talking about vision planning, where are you going? And why does it matter. And so if you don’t lead an organization, if you don’t lead a team, that’s okay, we can talk about this as it applies to you as an individual, because you can still have a big impact on your organization. And, you know, as I am fond of saying, I hope you all consider yourself leaders and what you do matters. And so hopefully, this can give you some good food for thought, as you consider the year ahead. And as you consider your place in your organization and in the world, right? It all matters.
Dr. Melissa Smith 2:21
Okay, and every week, my goal is to help you pursue what matters and to strengthen your confidence to lead in one of three areas. And this week, the goal is to help you lead with clarity. And that is what vision planning is all about is really helping you clarify what matters most. So you know where you’re going. And, you know, what, what results you’re pushing to? Because otherwise, what’s the point? And so let’s start with this question of why does vision matter? Like, what’s the big deal? Aren’t we just like trying to, we’re just trying to keep that ship from going under. So when we think about vision, it really defines the core reason for a company’s existence, and makes work more meaningful. So vision is inherently tied to culture. And right most of us agree that culture is pretty darn important. But vision really sets the foundation for culture.
Dr. Melissa Smith 3:30
So that’s kind of how I want you to think about that. And so when you think about a vision statement, it usually helps to attract and engage passionate, like minded team members. So companies can more easily build an appropriate organizational culture around a vision statement and work towards strengthening the culture. And so if you don’t have a clear vision of who you are, as a company, then how on earth are you going to attract people to come and work with you. And like there’s, there’s nothing that would draw people to you. And organizational vision is what draws people to you or repels them. And that’s all organizational vision. It identifies purpose and acts as a catalyst, engaging individuals in work that is meaningful and inspirational. And so this is a quote that comes from Max Dupree, I love this quote. He says, “the first responsibility of a leader is to define reality.” And so that’s exactly what you do with organizational vision. You decide what matters. You decide who we are and where we are going. And so that is really what we are going to focus on in this podcast today is like, what is that organizational vision? How does it relate to mission statement and your organizational, your strategic priorities like that can that can feel like a really big jumbled mess to a lot of people. And so what I have found working with leadership teams and CEOs and executives is that, you know, a lot of these concepts, they feel kind of fuzzy. And sometimes, teams will have off sites around these issues. And they get that they’ll get stuck in the concepts and the definitions. And they will miss the point of what does this actually mean for our organization, and it, it does not become a useful tool. And that is a shame. Because at the end of the day, these are simply tools that need to help you do better work and help your team do better work. And here is the thing I’ve done. And I’ve talked about this in a recent podcast, as much as possible, you want to leverage an inherent motivation, right, you do not want to be relying on external motivation, you don’t want to be using carrots and sticks for everything that you do at work. Sometimes, you know, there’s some of that, right, because most of this won’t work without a paycheck. But as much as possible, you want to leverage inherent motivation, that is the work of vision planning, that is the work of mission statement, that is the work of a strong organizational culture.
Dr. Melissa Smith 7:06
And so if you as a leader, if you as a leadership team, don’t do your homework, and don’t take the time to do this work, you are tying your hands behind your back, and you’re gonna lose, you’re gonna lose your most powerful team members. And you are going to fail to attract the best team members who want to work for a company who is aligned on mission and who is who has a sense of purpose. And so that’s why this matters. That’s why it’s so important to do this. And so today, I want to take you through a vision planning process, it’s a pretty simple framework that I hope can be helpful for you, we don’t want to get too caught up in definitions. But we want to kind of help take you from the organizational vision, to the mission statement, to the strategic priorities, to then the daily accountability, and results, because that’s what matters. That’s what matters every single day in your work. And so we don’t want to get too bogged down in any of the other details. And so that’s what we’re gonna do. And so with that, when we think about this vision planning process, the imagery that I want you to imagine, and this, if you’ve listened to any of my podcasts, this will be familiar to you. But the imagery is that of a mountain, right? So think about the mountain, because that’s what we’re doing every day. As an organization, we’re climbing that mountain, and it is challenging.
Dr. Melissa Smith 8:55
And so I want you to think about the organizational vision as the mountain peak. And so there are, when we think about this vision planning process, there are four steps that we are going through, okay. And so again, we’re going to, we’re going to make this as simple as possible. So there are four steps and each step has a specific task. And so step one of the vision planning process, and this is for your team or your organization, so you can break it down as small as you need it to be. So step one is your mountain peak. And the task in step one is to clarify your organizational vision. And so when we think about the actions of step one, I want you to just listen As I talk about what what I mean by vision and the organizational vision, so vision is the mountain peak. So what are you aiming for as an organization? And why does it matter? So where are you heading as an organization? So it asks what is possible? It is forward looking, right, you are heading to that mountain peak. Organizational vision is also future oriented, it looks to the future and asks where you are going. And organizational vision is also focused on desire. What do you want for the organization? So, do you want to increase your market share? Do you want to be the first organization that people think of when they think about this specific service for this specific product? And so, organizational vision is desire focused, it’s forward looking, it’s future oriented.
Dr. Melissa Smith 11:06
Okay. And so then with step two, step two is the map. Okay, step one was the mountain peak, step two is the map. And the task with step two, is to identify an effective mission statement. Okay, so this is where I want to clarify the difference between your organizational vision and identifying an effective mission statement. Okay. So your mission is the map. So this tells you how you are going to achieve the results. Okay. So it provides you the day to day clarity about the scope of the organization, and the mission statement. So think about it as a map, right, it ensures that you stay on course, so that you can make it to the mountain peak. So are we doing what we need to do in order to make it to the mountain peak? That’s the mission statement. It is present focused, it’s focused on your present day reality? What are we doing right now? To create the future we want? What are we doing on the trail to get to the mountain peak? So your mission statement, addresses who you are, why you exist, how you add value, and why potential clients or customers would feel compelled to work with you? Why would they choose you over someone else? And so with step two, when you think about this mission, it is present focus, it is your current reality, where vision, the mountain peak, is where you are going is future oriented mission statement is present day oriented. Okay? So that’s the difference between those two, they are so related, but they’re not the same thing.
Dr. Melissa Smith 13:21
Okay, and now, we are on to Step three. And step three is pacing, and resources. Okay, and the task with step three is to outline strategic priorities. Okay, so this is where we get into some of the nitty gritty. And so let’s think about the actions here. So both vision and mission inform strategy in different ways. Right, so they’re both really important in Step three, because they ensure that you remain focused on achieving your priorities. But really, what we’re focused on here in Step three, are pacing, planning and resource allocation. So right like you, you got to manage your energy. You got to manage your resources, your time, your people, your finances, because you can’t do everything right now. You’re gonna burn yourself out, you’re gonna burn through your funds, you’re going to write like you you’ve got to be able to prioritize. And so identifying strategic priorities holds what is possible in one hand, and what is realistic in the other. So right, I want you to imagine that you are standing on the trail as you are trying to get up that mountain. And right you have to make difficult decisions. Right, okay, like I, I need to make it this far on the trail. But I also need to rest, right or I have got this much water, and the stream is that far away. So how do I, how do I manage these competing priorities, you really need to hold what is possible on one hand and what is realistic and the other, it requires some tough decision making. And isn’t that the work of leadership isn’t that the work of outlining your strategic priorities, you can’t do it all. And this is the other thing, constraints are a gift. And, you know, we often see constraints as a negative thing. But I would really, I would argue that constraints can be your best friend in business. And, you know, it’s, it’s really important to kind of shift your, your understanding of constraints and recognize that it forces you to make better decisions in your organization. And so, of course, with this step three, pacing really matters. If you are going to achieve your organizational vision, you have got to pace yourself, you’ve got to manage your different horizons. And you know, not too long ago, I did a podcast on horizon conflict. And this comes up all the time here is you’ve got multiple horizons happening within the organization. And so you’ve got to pace yourself, you’ve got to manage all of those different horizons, or you’re not going to make it to that mountain peak. And so there’s just so many moving parts. And so you’ve really got to pay attention to that. And of course, you know, I think for sure, what we we want to make clear is, we don’t want you doing it all alone. There are so many moving parts here.
Dr. Melissa Smith 17:15
And then step four. So this is the last step in this vision planning process. And that step is progress. Okay, with step four progress, the task is to ensure accountability and alignment to results. And so what I want to make clear is that with each of these steps, they really flow into one another. Okay, so we’re always kind of working with each of them. But really, with step four, this is an ongoing step where we are really working on the ongoing accountability and alignment to results. And so step four is focused on the gritty details of the daily climb. And if you’ve ever climbed a mountain, you know, it’s gritty, you know, that it, you know, there are times where it’s just downright painful. And you just have to take the next step. And you don’t really want to think too much about how many more steps you have ahead of you. And you don’t want to think about having to climb down the mountain either, because it’s a lot of work. And so you just have to do the work. But accountability and alignment are focused on progress and driving results. And that’s really key, we always keep our eye on results. And whenever there’s conflict, whenever there’s contention, go back to the goal, go back to results, because that can help us to get off of the emotional roller coaster step out of drama. And you know, it goes back to this idea of chop wood carry water, just get out of the drama, and let’s focus on driving results and getting the work done. So daily and weekly accountability and alignment process with one another is used to assess progress on your strategic priorities.
Dr. Melissa Smith 19:17
So here what I want to say is that and this is something I’ve very strongly recommend that for your leadership teams, or your work teams, whatever, whatever level you’re using this for, so when I work with individuals, coaching, I have them do this accountability process with me on a weekly basis. If I’m working with a leadership team, I have the leadership team do it with one another on their leadership team. If you are on a project team, you could do it with the project team on a weekly basis. But this is what you need to have in place. So daily accountability for yourself, and then weekly accountability with the team, about how you are doing in terms of progress on your strategic priorities. Now, this one can hurt, because we push against accountability. And it’s that important, because first of all, you need one another to be successful. And you need one another to stay honest. And so when you have this type of accountability in place, I promise you, you will be more successful on your strategic priorities, it also becomes a communication channel for you to troubleshoot challenges, and to really make sure that you are all staying aligned with your vision and mission. Because often what can happen is we just go off the rails, we get sidetracked, we get thrown off into rabbit holes. And having this accountability with your team can keep everyone on track to be able to say like, I don’t know that that’s a good use of our time. Or you know what, like, I need you to be focused on this because I’m waiting on you to complete that. So I can, you know, complete my portion of this project. And so when we have this type of accountability in place, it really helps to drive results. banish excuses, because you can’t hide behind your excuses. Sometimes you’ll buy your own excuses, but other people will not buy your excuses.
Dr. Melissa Smith 21:57
It also helps you to own hidden agendas, discover pain points. So where do we as a team continue to get stuck. And you can start to unearth that very, very quickly in these weekly check ins. And it also helps you to identify the ineffective patterns. Okay, so when things get hard, we shut down, when things get hard. Everything goes underground, we don’t talk about it. And of course, it allows you to course correct and shift your priorities as needed. Because sometimes you get into a project, and you recognize like, we don’t have enough information. Or actually, you know what, we’re not ready for this priority, this strategic priority yet. And when you’re all looking at that together, you can, you can make the necessary decisions and shift gears as needed. And that’s okay, like if you need to do that you need to do that. But no one’s flying blind, and no one’s making that decision in a vacuum. And so it’s really important that you have that accountability and alignment, because that’s what keeps you on track and ensures that you are progressing.
Dr. Melissa Smith 23:16
So again, let’s go over the four steps in the vision planning process. So step one is the mountain peak where we clarify organizational vision. Step two is the map where we identify an effective mission statement. Step three, is pacing and resources where we outline strategic priorities. So this is where we would outline strategic priorities for the year. And then, you know, I would say you focus on you know, two to four per quarter, right, so that you can really have some laser focus for each quarter. And that you don’t have more than seven to 10 strategic priorities in a year, depending on the size of your organization, less is more, less is better. And a focus, focus really matters. And so if anything, choose fewer strategic priorities for the year, and then we just want to focus on, you know, two to four, two to three, one to three per quarter. And then step four is progress. And the task is to ensure accountability and alignment to results. And there’s some daily accountability with yourself and weekly accountability among team members.
Dr. Melissa Smith 24:37
And then of course, I have some specific questions for each of those steps that I use with teams to really help them to build these out because, you know, sometimes with teams, they already have a very clear organizational vision and so it’s really just kind of helping them strengthen that foundation and other teams are starting from scratch, right, so we’re just helping them get that from the get go. And the same thing with mission statement, some teams have very effective mission statements already. And so it’s just really making sure that that’s a strong mission statement. And then from there, especially, you know, first of all, this is good work anytime, for an organization. The most important thing is that you get intentional about what you’re doing. But what I would say is the beginning of the year is always a really perfect time to do some of this, this vision planning, because it forces you to be strategic, it forces you to be intentional and to slow yourself down, and really think about what matters. What are we going to do as an organization, and what are we not going to do as an organization. And that decision of what we’re not going to do is just as important, if not more important, as the decision of what we are going to do. And so that’s something that I help teams with. And then, of course, when we think about the weekly checks, I usually help teams decide on a few questions. So usually, we have like priorities that help them to assess their progress. And then we look at some of their self leadership questions focused on maybe some specific areas that their team wants some development in maybe focused on their values, or some of their opportunity areas where they really want to grow and strengthen their skills. And so that’s kind of what we want to focus on. And the thing about vision planning is, it can feel overwhelming, when you first think about it, but it is such a gift to your organization and to yourself, because it just clarifies things. And it will make you a better leader, it will make you a better thinker, and for sure, it will make you a better decision maker. And the thing, the thing about vision planning is it doesn’t have to be it doesn’t have to be that complicated.
Dr. Melissa Smith 27:36
And so hopefully, with what you’ve heard today, you can just kind of think about this simple process that can you know that imagery can maybe be a helpful way to kind of think about some of these concepts. And so, of course, if you’re interested in doing some vision planning, I am definitely conducting vision planning sessions with leadership teams and organizations. Right now, like I said, you can do them any time, quarter one is always a really great time to do that. I’d love to work with your team. So whether you need help identifying your strategic priorities, or you are starting at square one, with identifying an organizational vision, I would love to help out. And so you know, I will include a link to to leadership consultation on my website. So I do free leadership consultations. And so if you want to learn more about that, I’ll include the link on my show notes so you can gather a little more information about that. And if you are interested, and then of course, you can head on over to my website for the show notes and other resources as well. And you can do that at www.drmelissasmith.com/episode-88 one more time. That’s www.drmelissasmith.com/episode-88. I’m Dr. Melissa Smith. Remember love and work, work and love. That’s all there is. Until next time, take good care.
Transcribed by https://otter.ai