You see things; and you say “Why?”
But I dream things that never were; and I say “Why not?”
-George Bernard Shaw, 1949
I have a love/hate relationship with vision.
I used to be in love with the idea of creating a great vision.
Then one day, a “leader” came into the organization I worked in and imposed his vision on all of the people and programs that had been there before him.
Three years later, the “leader” was gone, but most (not all) of the people were still there. Those people were left to pick up the pieces of a painful and contentious series of changes.
Vision is a double-edged sword.
“Where there is no vision, the people perish…”
-Proverbs 29:18, King James Bible
Vision can be a powerful tool for good. Here is the challenge as I see it…
The vision must be a shared vision. Leaders are servants first, and part of their job is to articulate the goals, dreams, and aspirations of the people within the organization. Where things are unclear, limited, or confused, leaders work to educate, clarify, and build consensus.
Every organization should have a vision, but the genesis of that vision should lay at the intersection of the purpose of the organization and the people within it.