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Maximize Your Organization’s Potential With a Long-Range Vision

Posted by Herman Najoli on August 20, 2007

After many years of research being done and business books being written, the jury is out on the idea of organizational vision: companies must have a vision. Over the past two or three decades many companies have done a lot in terms of developing their vision/mission statements along with core values that guide them towards that vision. Go to any company website and nine out of ten times you will find some form of a mission statement, vision statement, guiding philosophy or core values.

While it is commendable that many organizations have a vision to justify their existence, it is worth noting that most of these visions are short-range in nature. The vision enables them to get on track with their plans but it is not sufficient enough to take them into the future. Let me use the analogy of a train going through a tunnel. Physical vision (along with the train’s lights) enables the train operator or engine driver to see as he goes through the tunnel. An experienced driver, however, has the mental vision that enables him to see beyond the tunnel. I would also venture to use an example from the nation of South Africa. Nelson Mandela had the vision to take the people out of apartheid. Thabo Mbeki had the vision to take the country into reconciliation and a future of mutual existence. Actually, Mandela did initiate the reconciliation but it took Mbeki’s leadership to sustain it beyond the euphoria of excitement.

Here are some thoughts on how long-range vision can transform your business:

1. Provides a focus beyond “tomorrow”

Vision is great because it provides you with a general strategy for handling tomorrow. Beyond tomorrow though, you need to be able to handle “the future”. Tomorrow belongs to those organizations that have a vision of what is coming ahead. The future belongs to those organizations that can shape what is coming. We see what’s ahead through vision; but we shape what’s coming through long-range perspective.  

2. Ensures the continuity of the group or organization

Vision gives power to an organization’s mission. Long-range vision, on the other hand, breathes life into the organization’s mission. Any organization can make it a couple of years but it takes long-range thinking to survive a future that threatens the very life of organizations. Vision can sometimes guide an organization to it’s level of incompetence. The Swiss watch making companies for example, were overtaken by Japanese digital watch companies because they did not have long-range vision. They had vision, yes, but that alone could not take them into the future.  

3. Envisions potential pitfalls and their solutions 

Henry Ford is noted for saying that the masses could have any car they wanted so long as it was black in color. Ford had great vision for the automobile industry but he could not see beyond the tunnel. He could clearly see the light at the end of the tunnel but little did he know that it was the headlight of an on-coming train. Now, he had experience and should have been able to see beyond the tunnel. However, he didn’t. If organizations are going to make it into the future, they must have long-range vision, rather than just “a vision of tomorrow”. They must be on the cutting-edge of shaping the direction in which society is going rather than putting themselves in a place where they will have to play catch-up.

How’s your organization doing? Do you have a long-range vision? At the Better Life Company, we have started aiding businesses in developing training programs that empower it’s employees in working with leadership to develop long-range vision. It takes more than observing trends. It takes more than a “visionary” person climbing to the top of the mountain and declaring the vision to the team. Are you ready to maximize your organization’s future and ensure it’s continuity?

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