by Jim Cramer
In Finian’s Rainbow, Fred Astaire sang: “Look, look, look to the rainbow. Follow the fellow who follows the dream.” I couldn’t help thinking of that song recently while we were visiting a firm on the east coast conducting a leadership audit. It hit me that we were in a firm with a good mission but without a discernible vision.
What exactly is a vision?
Here is our working definition: A vision is an understandable, credible, attractive future for your firm. It is not a mission statement–it deals with the future. In the best firms, the vision is an idea so energizing that it rallies the resources to make exciting things happen.
Why is vision important?
A vision is not a luxury but a necessity; without it, design firms drift and lack focus. Without vision there is confusion and often disharmony.
What are the warning signs?
Here are a few “red flags” to consider:
What can be done to turn this around? Leaders in the firm must establish direction. It isn’t always easy. There are strategic choices to be made that require resources, certain behavior patterns, authentic leadership, and business judgment.
Visions are idealistic
They may often remind your staff of that which originally motivated them to choose design as a career. Still, visions are also about change. They are about new models that are desirable. Visions are nothing if they are not motivating. At the end of a long, hard week one still feels a sense of a strong and powerful reason to return to the workplace.
Visions inspire enthusiasm and they reflect the uniqueness of the firm. They are expansive. They are attractive because they clarify purpose and direction. To be clear, a vision is not a mission. It is not factual. It deals not with reality but with possible and desirable futures. Here is what we recommend:
By Jim Cramer
This article originally appeared in DesignIntelligence, February 28, 1997.