What Vince Lombardi can teach you about the importance of having a clear vision

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I have always been a sports enthusiast and love reading books about my sports heroes. As such, I recently completed John Madden’s hey wait a minutean old book where he shares his still colorful experiences as an Oakland Raiders coach and as a television and radio commentator.

In an insightful passage, he recounts his lonely conversation with one of his heroes, Vince Lombardi, the legendary Green Bay Packers coach:

The more we talked, the more I knew I had to ask him a question that had always intrigued me.”

“What is it,” I said, “that separates a good trainer from a bad trainer?”

“Knowing what the end result looks like,” Lombardi said. “The best coaches know what the end result looks like, whether it’s attacking play, defensive coverage or just an area of ​​the organization. If you don’t know what the end result looks like is supposed to look like, you can’t go…”

“After that, whenever I put something new in the Raider playbook, I always tried to imagine what the end result should look like. And then I worked to create that end result.

When I read this passage, I nodded and thought, It’s a core strategic planning principle we teach our clients: Be clear about your end in mind – your vision.

I’m sure if Lombardi were a strategic planner he would emphasize the power of be clear about your vision. Once you are, your goals fall into place.

Related: Strategic planning is essential to the success of your business. Here’s why (and how to do it right).

Types of views

There are two types of visions that we talk about in strategic planning.

The first is your vision statement – the overall idea of ​​what your world, your community or audience will look like when you successfully complete your mission.

The second is your organizational vision — what your organization will look like in the future. Three years in the future is typical of your organizational vision, but feel free to use a different time frame that might better suit your needs.

I recommend keeping your timeline within five years. There are several reasons why you should avoid going beyond five years. For one thing, the pace of change in today’s world is rapid and it’s hard to predict what the future holds. Additionally, setting a shorter timeline keeps your team focused and accountable, encourages flexibility and agility, and allows for more frequent reassessment and adjustment of your strategies.

Developing your vision statement

We have found what we believe to be the The easiest and the most effective approach for vision statements.

For your vision statement, as briefly and precisely as possible, describe what the “world” will look like when you succeed in your mission. Keep the following recommendations in mind:

  • Vision statements should be one sentence each. This facilitates memorization and helps you focus on the essentials. Moreover, it will serve as a clear filter for making organizational decisions.
  • Your vision statement should be somewhat timeless. You don’t want to have to change it every year or two.
  • Your vision should provide clarity and inspiration.

Related: How to be successful in the long term by slowing down your activity and creating a strategic plan

Your Organizational Vision Assessment

To create your organizational vision, you must first decide on a few focus areas. A few common focus areas where business leaders focus their strategic attention are programs/services, staffing, finance, operations, and marketing.

I would also recommend including strategic planning as a priority area. This will give it the level of importance it needs to be part of your business process.

Once you have defined your areas of intervention, as precisely as possible, describe what you hope your organization will look like in three years for each of the areas. Here are some ideas of what these focus areas can and should include:

  • Programs or services: Should include your goals for your main product.
  • Recruitment: Should take into account the structure and composition of your staff.
  • finance: May include questions about earnings, income and expenses.
  • Operations: May include financial management, human resource policies, risk management, facilities maintenance and office management.
  • Marketing: May include issues of branding, customer/stakeholder identification, digital communications and events.

Together, these descriptions will constitute your organizational vision.

Once you have defined the visions for the priority areas, ask yourself what needs to happen for your vision in each of the areas to become a reality. These actions, or any obstacles you see in achieving a focus area vision, will become your goals over the next three years or so.

That’s it. This exercise can be the start of your strategic plan. It really is that simple.

Of course, there are other models and assessments to help you recognize risks, opportunities, strengths and weaknesses, but this is a pragmatic first step in creating your plan.

Related: Vision: the engine of entrepreneurship

Your vision statement will remain largely unchanged. Your organizational vision exercise should be repeated on an annual basis. This assessment will help you pursue a strategic cycle of identifying priority areas and setting goals.

Follow Lombardi’s advice to always keep your end result in mind and you’re well on your way to becoming a successful strategic planner.

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