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The VISION Thing

by Jim Taggart July 6, 2011

We hear a lot about how important it is to have a vision, whether for an organization or at the individual level. During my (too) long career in government I was part of numerous vision and mission-building exercises. Similar to those done in the private sector the results were often tepid and short-lived. This is not surprising since the North American mentality of wanting instant results without sustained commitment, combined with limited attention spans, pervades our organizations.

Simply stated: You get out what you put in. Don’t be surprised if your instant pudding suddenly deflates.

But with this rather pessimistic opening, should we just ditch the “vision thing” and try to cope with the growing avalanche of change?

Absolutely not.


Because a well-crafted vision, co-created with employees – people – can be an extremely powerful guiding light, enabling an organization to confront major internal and external change events. The analogy is whitewater canoeing (one of my former recreational enjoyments). Entering a river’s rapids without first thinking through what your final destination will be is a fool’s game. The stakes are big – injuries, or even death.

However, if you know where you want to end up and have a plan for contingencies, then your odds for a successful outcome are that much better.

The same with organizations.

Visualize where you want to be and how you will get there, but understand that along the way unanticipated events will undoubtedly occur. However, by co-creating a vision with people, building the capacity for change adaptability and sharing the leadership your organization will be able to successfully tackle any event.

Sure there may be some significant pain and adjustments along the way. But when the organization emerges on the other side of the whitewater INTACT, the hard work and commitment by EVERYONE in the organization will have proved to be an invaluable investment.

No man was ever wise by chance.
– Seneca